Anders Petersen: sex, drugs, and madness

The Swedish master bares his hallucinogenic vision of a mental hospital and prison

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Mental Hospital, 1995

Shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, Anders Petersen is best-known for shooting the late-night denizens (prostitutes, transvestites, drunks, lovers, drug addicts) of his Cafe Lehmitz series. His penchant for portraying outsiders and social misfits in a raw, black-and-white documentary-style continued to focus on the trilogy of a prison, nursing home, and mental hospital. In illuminating the day-to-day life of mental patients during a three-year stint, his cinematic sensibilities reveal an extraordinarily tender, yet harrowing, truth that the viewer may wish to dismiss as mere nightmare. And yet - located somewhere between horror and hope - Petersen's work testifies to the transcendent force of the human spirit, even within its institutionalized cage. 

To me, it's encounters that matter, pictures are much less important.

Thanks to Capricious Magazine, buy issue #14 here

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