Place: Landskrona Foto, Tyghuset. Opening hours: Thursday– Sunday 12-17, Private view: Saturday 2 October 12.00-14.00
A PNI is a psychoneurological asylum and there are several hundred all over Russia, but they are kept out of public eye. The patients are often stowed away for years, over-medicalized and only rarely re-socialized. In this exhibition they are seen as complex individuals while the dehumanizing structures of the institution and the system are uncovered.
Photographer Kent Klich first visited a PNI some 20 years ago, invited by an NGO working to create awareness of the patients’ living conditions. Over the years, he has met and collaborated with activists, researchers, doctors, and several of the around 1000 patients of PNI A and B. A Tree Called Home is a multilayered narrative by voices and gazes from both inside and outside the institution. It comprises of photographs, by Klich as well as images found at the PNI, the video and sound piece Voices, and documentations of sculptural objects (Homes) by the artist and patient Aleksey Sakhnov.
It takes multiple approaches and perspectives to visualize an institution like PNI and its inhabitants who live shoved together under cruel conditions without privacy. Showing physical evidence of systematic lack of care Kent Klich’s photographs relay the traces of use and abuse in worn down furniture and claustrophobic, disciplinary architecture. What does it do to an already fragile human being to be surrounded by bare walls and dirt, sit in hard, broken chairs, lay in rows of old beds? Where and how can inner space and self-dignity be cultivated? What is the meaning and hopes of a home?
The patients’ own bodies are also archiving traces of physical and psychological mistreatment, which becomes evident in Kent Klich’s portraits mediating scarred lives and a range of poses, gestures, and emotions. Sadness, despair, anger, isolation, but also momentary joy and signs of friendship and community. The patients’ personalities are expressed and unfolded despite the systemic repression and surveillance they have to suffer.
Several of the found photographs point to everyday scenes associated with home and family, contrasting the institutional violence. Similarly, Sakhnov’s small houses, created with paper, plastic, and other materials at hand, seem to work as imaginative sanctuaries. What A Tree Called Home first and foremost bears witness to is the unjust silencing of lives, stories, and dreams that might have had the potential to bloom outside the PNI.
/ Louise Wolthers, Research manager and Curator, Hasselblad Foundation
* The title of this exhibition and the accompanying book is a quote by one of the inhabitants at the PNI. Growing up in an orphanage, he was told his mother disappeared into the woods.
Kent Klich was born in Sweden in 1952, and currently lives in Denmark. He studied psychology at the University of Gothenburg and photography at the International Center of Photography in New York. He joined the photo agency Magnum Photos in 1998 until 2002. Kent Klich has received international recognition with his project about Beth, a Danish sex worker whose life he has chronicled over the past thirty years, resulting in three books and several exhibitions. Other acclaimed projects include El Niño (1999), Children of Ceausescu (2001), and Gaza Works a series about the Gaza Strip, with the aim of offering alternative images to the mass media’s short-lived, usually sensational coverage – and simultaneously spreading knowledge about injustices and violations of human right in the region. Gaza Works was exhibited at The Hasselblad Foundation in 2017 and The National Museum of Photography, The Royal Danish Library in 2018.