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September 11, 2013 / Ginny Banks

Essence of Place.

I have always been fascinated with Mary Ellen Mark’s photographic work, in particular, Ward 81. In 1975, she was assigned by a magazine to do a story on the making of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which was shot on location at the Oregon State Hospital, a mental institution. Ward 81 was the locked ward for women. The resulting photographs were black and white and very moving. They can be seen on her website at www.maryellenmark.com.

I ran across Bill Diodato’s new monograph entitled Care of Ward 81, which documents the ward that remains after the women are gone. One wonders where they are right now and what will eventually happen to the space. The photographs are in color and hauntingly beautiful. The following is a quote about the monograph. “Bill Diodato’s photographs capture the stories imbedded in these walls. The empty rooms continue to narrate the stories of the women who once lived here. As uncomfortable as the reality of this place is, I cannot help but conjure its smells, feel the light, and sense the many people and the complex histories that crossed though these hallways and rooms.”

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