This project starts from the idea that photography can become a tool to extract the personality and the unconscious of every person.
To prove this I chose a particular location in Milan where the circumstances make it difficult to be immediately accepted: the people who live there need care and psychiatric assistance. This place is CRA (Centre of Rehabilitation and High Assistance), which is part of the complex Ex Paolo Pini; it’s a structure finalized to rehabilitate people who, because of their particular condition of pathology or because of their home environment, need to spend a period of treatment in centres with 24 hours assistance. Those periods usually last some months in a permanent or half-permanent system of hospitalization.
Thanks to the collaboration of doc. Elena Rasi and some trainees of the course of Techniques For Psychiatric Rehabilitation, it was possible to realize a photographic laboratory which interacted with the hosts of the structure.
The making of the project took quite a long time because initially my priority was to establish a climate of confidence with the patients that would allow me to relate with them and to define my presence and my role in the group. Surprisingly the results arrived faster than what I had expected. Patients were extremely interested and enthusiastic.
I was aware of the difficulties I was going to encounter in focusing their attention on the program and trying to keep everyone in a peaceful and comfortable state of mind.
For this reason I decided to use a reflex digital camera and a Polaroid camera: patients were called to make digital pictures with light painting techniques but also draw and write on Polaroid pictures.
As a result, my project consists of two groups of images, a digital one and an analogical one. During my visits I managed to capture the personality and the peculiar features of every single patient which emerged in spite of the medium and the technique used.
Very often drawings and writings were deeply connected to the patient’s disease, to his past experiences, to his emotions and attachments.
All this was eased by the union between two expressive mediums such as photography and signs (drawing or writing) made by a pocket torch floating in the air or by a drawing pen on the Polaroid picture.
Moreover after realizing pictures we analyzed together the images one by one. This standard practice permitted a progressive individual growth and was facilitated by reflections on the work we have made and by suggestion determined by the collective vision of it.
Patients can also preserve and see in every moment both Polaroid and digital pictures thanks to a digital frame I gave them.
The concept of owning the images and having the possibility of seeing them every so often, gave continuity to our laboratory that took place every week; at the same time it improved their confidence towards me.
In conclusion the objective of this project was to use photography as a medium instead of a purpose: in fact focusing on photography some people who needed help could move their eyes outside their diseases to look through the viewfinder of a camera. It gave them some moments of joy and satisfaction.