“Absurd stories often happen in absurd places.”
Simon Chang has been living and working as a documentary photographer in Europe since 2003, mainly focusing on stories about people whose voices were rarely heard, communities marginalized by mainstream society, and mental health issues in post-conflict regions. He has been based in Slovenia since 2010.
About his series Hawler Psychiatric Hospital, he wrote: “In the Iraqi Kurdistan capital of Erbil, the Hawler Psychiatric Hospital (locals refer to Erbil as Hawler) sits directly across from the Royal Mall, the largest modern shopping mall in the city. The Royal Mall is one of the first commercial malls in Iraqi Kurdistan; Hawler Psychiatric Hospital is the only psychiatric facility that admits male patients in Erbil.
In the corner of the lobby, a drinking fountain leaks continuously but no one takes notice. Diagonally across that, a few patients reached their arms through the bars while twisting empty plastic bottles, but no one cared. I noticed the cheeks of a few young nurses were marked with scratches. The chief physician remarked, “Most of our patients suffer from moderate or severe psychosis. They have auditory or visual hallucinations, some even have paranoia. They are unable to differentiate reality from fantasy—”. Before the chief could finish his explanation, a man roared frantically from the end of the hallway. The garbled noise sounded like it emerged from far beneath the earth or from the depths of a dark well.
And the drinking fountain goes on leaking, yet the crowd in front of the mall will never have the opportunity to hear it…”
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