A Photographer’s Journey
Friday, July 10, 2009
The Urban Center
457 Madison Avenue
For more than half the nation’s history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States. Yet in the second half of the twentieth century, after the introduction of psychotropic drugs and policy shifts toward community-based care, patient populations declined dramatically, leaving many of these massive buildings neglected and abandoned. Photographer Chris Payne will discuss and show images from his six-year research and book project, Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals (MIT Press, forthcoming September 2009), which explores the architecture, decay, and presence in the American landscape of state mental hospitals.
Trained as an architect, Chris Payne is a large format photographer whose passion is documenting America’s vanishing architecture and industrial landscape. His first book, New York’s Forgotten Substations: The Power Behind the Subway (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), offered dramatic, first-time views of the behemoth machines that are hidden behind modest facades in New York City. Payne is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the recipient of a Graham Foundation grant and was a former Architectural League-sponsored recipient of a New York State Council on the Arts Independent Projects grant. Chris Payne is a 2008 Artist Fellowship recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). This presentation is co-sponsored by Artists and Audiences Exchange, a NYFA public program.
AIA and New York State continuing education credits are available.
This program was made possible in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
Image: Buffalo State Hospital Ward, © 2009 Chris Payne. Click on image to view more photographs.