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Ward 81by Mary Ellen Mark
Synopses & Reviews
In 1975, photographer Mary Ellen Mark was assigned by The Pennsylvania Gazette to produce a story on the making of Milos Forman's film of Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, shot on location at the Oregon State Hospital, a mental institution. While on set, Mark met the women of Ward 81, the only locked hospital security ward for women in the state: The inmates were considered dangerous to themselves or to others. In February of 1976, just before the ward closed (it ceased to exist in November of 1977, when it became the female section of a coeducational treatment ward), Mark and Karen Folger Jacobs, a writer and social scientist, were given permission to make a more extended stay, living on the ward in order to photograph and interview the women. They spent 36 days on Ward 81, photographing and documenting. Jacobs recalls their slow, inevitable assimilation: We felt the degeneration of our own bodies and the erosion of our self-confidence. We were horrified at the thought of what we might become after a year or two of confinement and therapy on Ward 81. This new hardcover edition adds 10 pictures to the original.
Voted by the readers of "American Photo" as the most influential woman photographer of all time, Mark now turns her eye and her heart to the extraordinary bond that exists between twins.
This book accompanies an international traveling exhibition of pictures by the acclaimed American photographer Mary Ellen Mark, made during the summer of 2006, and depicting disabled school-aged children in Reykjavik, Iceland. Most of the 70-some photographs were made at special schools, often during swimming lessons, but some were also made at the childrens' homes. Deeply moving, poignant, sad and joyous, these photographs take us into a reality that adjoins our own, but is very seldom seen. The pride and fear, the sheer effort, that Mark captures in these intensely human studies, can be difficult to bear. In addition to Mark's work, this volume contains 15 photographs of the empty schools by renowned Icelandic photographer Ivar Brynjolfsson, as well as 20 paintings by the children.
Over the past three decades, Mary Ellen Mark has achieved worldwide visibility through her numerous books, exhibitions and editorial magazine work. She is a contributing photographer to The New Yorker and has published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as Life and the New York Times Magazine.
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