of Nick & Marie Ellen Brokensha
A village alive in autarky, with its gardeners and gardens, its apples for apple cider, its baker's ovens, its cooks, its painters and its fashion workshops. We are in Normandy, at the beginning of the century, this place was called the psychiatric asylum. The patients worked here and many arrived never to leave Navarre.
Navarre or the universe of the insane, with its autonomous structure, its balls, its brass band and straightjackets.
1968, the lunatic asylums get a facelift. 1998, what remains now? The exterior of Navarre has not changed in it's appearance.
The buildings are so numerous that even the restorations in progress leave these parts abandoned. Dive into the forgotten, the cells are still there to see. The walls full of all kinds of drawings are awake, the doors are open and the floors are smashed. We seek to photograph the spirit of these places.
Documentary or allegorical approach, our photographs are fragments of the memories of this asylum. The stories of the doors tell the past, as a building sets the images mixed. A piece of the world remained separate here, left to it's own past. However its forces remain under tension and there is no reason to release them. The cells, one day, will be leveled landscape.
The photographic eye remembers, the texture of the walls, the drawn dreams, the flowers of lily, as a purity in the image beyond the functional appearance of this institution. The intensity solidified over time. There are no more screams, haggard eyes, from camisoles.
The players are long gone, but not their suffering. We have touched their ghosts. Women's ward, men's ward, the isolation cells. They remained with the large windows to feel the light of life.
Nick et Marie Ellen Brokensha