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Patricia Gómez i Mª Jesús González

© Patricia Gómez i Mª Jesús González
© Patricia Gómez i Mª Jesús González



Dirty, worn, and some broken with the passage of time, the mirrors of the Bétera Psychiatric Hospital had been hanging there for almost 50 years. Small mirrors, for a single person to look at, rectangular and simple, without bevels or corner pieces, some of them nailed to the wall and others fixed with adhesive tape. Those that still resisted abandonment were distributed among the individual rooms and common bathrooms of all the wards of the old hospital: the child psychiatry ward, the alcoholic, drug addiction, infectious diseases, judicial, the small hospital, the theatre, the hotel, etc.


The photographic project "Espejo del mundo" (Mirror of the world) explores the memory of the last Psychiatric Hospital of Valencia, portraying its spaces through the mirrors that still remain in its uninhabited wards. The project takes its title from one of the expressions created by the inmates of the hospital in Juquery (Brazil) to designate their place of internment, which were collected in the book "O espelho do mundo" (1986), by Maria Clementina Pereira Cunha.





© Patricia Gómez y Mª Jesús González. Photo Eduardo Alapont





Photographing the remains of a psychiatric hospital through its mirrors allows us, on the one hand, to portray what we see and what the mirror sees, the ruins of the asylum; and on the other, to show what is not seen, but what they saw: as if those mirrors, which now only reflect an empty and abandoned place, had memory because they had witnessed the lives of those who passed in front of them, their stories and the meaning of their internment. Standing in front of these mirrors means taking the place of those who looked into them, inviting us to inhabit their other side, the place of the inverted, of the upside-down world, and inevitably asking ourselves what is reality and what is reflection, and on which side of the mirror we stand.


The project recovers a total of 114 original mirrors, first recording the current state of the space they reflect, to compose a work that, through the confrontation of photography - as an index of what the mirror sees - and mirrors - as witnesses to what they saw - questions the historical and social conception of mental illness as a condition symmetrically opposed to reason, revealing not only the failure of the asylum as a structure of isolation, but also that of the society of which it is a reflection.


Project carried out with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sport. 2020-2021





© Patricia Gómez y Mª Jesús González