Raymond Depardon: Manicomio: Selected Madness

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In 1977, I met Franco Basaglia, director of the manicomico (lunatic asylum) at the hospital in Triest, who was also the leader of an alternative psychiatric movement. Taking advantage of the chaotic political situation in Italy at the time, he started to close several psychiatric hospitals with a group of doctors, and had Law 180 passed in 1978, which resulted in the definitive closure of the asylums. Franco encouraged me to take photographs of this reality, If not, they will not believe us, he told me. With more than a hundred thousand people interned in psychiatric asylums all over Italy, the situation was indeed dramatic. He also introduced me to directors of other asylums in Venice, Naples, Arezzo and Turin. For four years, until the closure of the hospital on the island of San Clemente very close to Venice, I photographed these places of pain to preserve them in memory and to pay tribute to Franco Basaglia who died from a sudden illness in 1980. My film about San Clemente came out in 1982, but its only now thirty years later after a long pause that I have finally edited and designed the photographic work that was begun all those years ago. Raymond Depardon Raymond Depardon, born in Villefranche-sur-Saone in 1942, belongs to a generation of French photographers reluctant to over-interpret his subjects. Depardon developed a profound love for the Middle East and the desert, recurrent themes in his later work. In 1967 an encounter with Gilles Caron led to the founding of Gamma, through which they were assigned the most troubled parts of the world. In 1973 Depardon became Gammas director. From 1975 to 1977 he travelled in Chad. The next year Depardon left Gamma to become a Magnum associate, then a full member in 1979, when he also received a Georges Sadoul Prize for his film Numeros Zero. Depardons numerous awards include the Robert Capa Gold Medal, the Cesar Award for Best Documentary and a nomination for an Academy Award. His books with Steidl include Villes/Cities/Stadte (2007) and Manhattan Out (2008).