Christopher Payne

by alyssa bozekowski

I just recently found the work of Christopher Payne an architect, photographer and archeologist, he specializes in the documentation of America’s vanishing architecture and industrial landscape. His most recent project entitled “Asylum : Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals” focuses on the many years he spent touring abandoned asylums across the United States that uncover the history of these facilities. The photographs are brilliant and haunting, you can check out the book and full work at his website

“We tend to think of mental hospitals as “snake pits”—places of nightmarish squalor and abuse—and this is how they have been portrayed in books and film. Few Americans, however, realize these institutions were once monuments of civic pride, built with noble intentions by leading architects and physicians, who envisioned the asylums as places of refuge, therapy, and healing.

From 2002 to 2008, I visited seventy institutions in thirty states, photographing palatial exteriors designed by famous architects and crumbling interiors that appeared as if the occupants had just left. I also documented how the hospitals functioned as self-contained cities, where almost everything of necessity was produced on site: food, water, power, and even clothing and shoes. Since many of these places have been demolished, the photographs serves as their final, official record.”

Thank you Trendland for the alert!