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I first became interested in the photographic depiction of insanity through Raymond Depardon’s work on Italian asylums. In Brazil, the way society deals with the mentally afflicted still is a matter of great controversy. The struggle to put an end to “madhouses” started in the eighties, and eventually led to the approval of a Federal Law in 2001, which established a deadline for their closure. Many of them, however, still exist. My initial contact with these asylums came through a series of visits to a female facility in Rio de Janeiro, for a photographic essay published in Fotóptica Magazine. As I met those women, I was struck by how mental illnesses manifested in them, a way that looked less violent, but in many aspects much more intense than in men. This immediately brought me to Emily Dickinson’s poem “The Soul has Bandaged moments”, in which the poet reveals the uncanny nature of being “out of control”, showing how the female soul fluctuates between times of uncontainable excitement and of a powerless state of paralysis, with a lack of moderation that appears to be inescapable. In Dickinson´s work, the soul is “bandaged”, because it is injured. My photographic essay depicts that injury of the soul among psychotic women in Brazil.

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