C7 Kerko: Hospital as a mirror

Maija Kerko

Helsinki

My contribution is a walk in the Lapinlahti hospital area during the Helsinki gathering on July 27. It will be documented by photographs published on Facebook.

As the first mental hospital in Finland built in first half of the 19th century, Lapinlahti signalizes both the reconstruction of Helsinki city as a new capital city of Grand Duchy of Finland and the beginning of the new era, when ”lunacy” was first considered as an illness and thus curable. It has proved to have high symbolic value, being interpreted as rooted, like it is to the city structure, also in the nation’s consciousness as a place for emphatic understanding of the fragility of the human mind. Interpreting the hospital area as part of consciousness resembles hospital’s patients prior expressions, reflecting the place experienced through sensory impressions as part of an identity. ”The arched vaults of our minds stem from here”. The patients were the first to speak out the meanings of the isolated hospital area in the 1980’s. Their statements were a detailed report of a healing interaction with the buildings reflecting long history and the nature with its artfully designed gardens in a place experienced as an asylum. To attune to the immediate surroundings can be an extremely political state. Still active social movement protecting the hospital area’s cultural heritage has been an idealistic project, looking at the place through a lense of what it means in its interpreted ideal state. As such, the place has become a critical mirror to a surrounding society. But if the mirror is turned around, the place itself appears as an utopia.

The drawing is made by Jani Jansson.

 

 

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