The exhibition „Joachim Giesel. Crazy about Ilten: Pictures from a psychiatry“, as part of the tenth edition of the f/stop festival, presents photographer Joachim Giesel’s artistic exploration of the social constructions surrounding psychiatric institutions. How visible are the realities of life for people living and working in psychiatric clinics? And what role can photography play in making it visible?

From May 31 to June 16, 2024, a selection of photographs from the series will be presented for the first time in the Joachim Giesel Archive. The exhibition is open to the public free of charge from Wednesdays to Sundays from 2 pm to 6 pm.

The vernissage on May 31 at 6 p.m. invites all interested people to enter into experience the works,to meet the artist himself and to talk about photography.

Joachim Giesel. Verrückt nach Ilten [Crazy about Ilten]: Pictures from a psychiatry

“In our society, in which everyone is defined above all by their position in the economic structure, all those who stand outside are disadvantaged […] Lack of information and communication cause us fears and lead to prejudices.” – Joachim Giesel

Between 2000 and 2003, photographer Joachim Giesel regularly visited the Wahrendorff Clinic in Ilten, 20 km east of Hanover. The photographic series Verrückt nach Ilten (Crazy about Ilten) bears witness to the artist’s encounters with the residents and staff of the psychiatry and reflects a social fabric that exists outside of the public and normative social life. Beginning as a commissioned work for the hospital’s own newspaper Is ja Ilten, Joachim Giesel developed an intense personal and artistic interest that drew him back to Ilten again and again. The people of Ilten gave Joachim Giesel and his camera an insight into their lives, their homes, their everyday and working practices. The portraits in the series reveal the close collaboration between the photographer and the people photographed. Viewers of the images look into the faces of active, empowered individuals who determine the camera’s view of their bodies and lives and stage themselves with self-confidence. This control is particularly evident in the radical break with the traditional signature of the artist-individual, as the people photographed sign their pictures themselves. The works form a photographic archive that documents the existence of those who are often socially excluded. In its choice of terminology, the title of the series enters into a charged discourse that is more widely discussed in society today than ever before. The ableist choice of words plays on the discourse about mental states, which is supplemented by a logistic-spatial level of meaning of going crazy and the emotional connotation of being crazy about something. A field of tension is created between the reproduction of ableist thought models and the critical reflection of these. Verrückt nach Ilten confronts the viewer with the futile attempt to classify the depicted according to stereotypical categories and thereby stimulates an inner process, at the end of which questions arise about the construction and potential dangers of such models.
The photographs transport images of a heterotopia into the public sphere. They illuminate and question the social and physical space of psychiatric clinics as places of individual care and as living space, but also as places of exclusion, as places that make invisible.

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