Since I have started to photograph my mother, in 2012, I got more involved with the issue of mental health. Through our history, Brazil has seen a slow evolution on the legislation regarding the rights of people with mental illnesses and the infrastructure available to receive those in need. Due to this context I had the urge to document what structural problem by public policies related to mental illnesses and the vestiges that years of incarceration in psychiatric hospitals left in their survivors.
The project is entitled Take Her Seriously and it is now in progress and divided in two parts. Firstly, I made portraits of people who have lived with invisible diseases or have been hospitalized in psychiatric clinics throughout their lives. To some of them I have asked to write a note about how they feel about themselves and the life they have had.
The second part is the beginning of a research about what is called The Brazilian Holocaust, a milestone in Brazil’s history where 60 thousand people were killed in the biggest psychiatric hospital in the country, Hospital Colônia de Barbacena, in Barbacena, Minas Gerais, between 1903 and 1980 due to mistreatment and isolation.
Today, many of the Colônia’s survivors live in therapeutic residences: houses built after the reform of the law that establishes health system treatment of mental diseases with the aim of providing more humanized places to live than the previous hospitals. However, the years of incarceration still reflect on these people's lives.
Recent statements by the Health Minister of Jair Bolsonaro’s government, Brazil’s current administration, show intentions to end the current polices on mental health. Thus, Take Her Seriously aims to discuss and reflect on how the imaginary of madness is build and how people with these condition will live in this new political era.