top of page

Rencontres d'Arles 2023 

Photographs of Ukrainian dissidents Lupinis Ivanovich, Leonid Plyusch and Mykhailo Akubivskyi, all three of whom were arrested and forcibly interned in the "special" psychiatric hospital at Dnipro in Ukraine.
Unique piece, consisting of 9 photographs and 90 glass plates.

-Psikhushka ( Russian: психу́шка ) is an ironic Russian diminutive for "psychiatric hospital" used since the introduction of punitive psychiatry in the USSR. 

Hundreds of people, - "dissidents" - for daring to write poems or texts critical of the Soviet government, were arrested, then wrongly diagnosed as "insane" in order to be forcibly interned in psychiatric hospitals, a practice in place until the break-up of the USSR in the 1990s, and still used in Russia today. Once interned, dissidents were subjected to years of abusive treatment akin to torture: heavy and inappropriate medication, repeated electric shocks, ill-treatment, total isolation, etc.  For the Soviet authorities, the aim was not only to undermine their credibility by passing them off as mad and thus erasing them from the social sphere, but also to erase from them any trace of rebellion or ability to think by destroying them mentally and physically. In 2023, I obtained from the current Ukrainian secret service (SBU) several complete files on the arrest of these 3 Ukrainian dissidents by the Soviet KGB. These 4,500 pages include transcripts of numerous interrogations, photos of exhibits and portraits taken of the prisoners during their arrests, which are used here. The erasure sought by this punitive practice is suggested here by the disappearance of the image beneath the layers of glass of the photographic device. ​

bottom of page