The malady of Suzanne
A few months ago, I moved to my new flat in South London. Once settled in my new home, I realised that the building had previously been a mental health hospital. In this hospital, people with mental health issues were treated and helped to reintegrate into society.
It looks like my small flat and other flats in the building were occupied, long ago, by people suffering from mental health issues.
One night, I was relaxing, reading in my living room. There was a sepulchral silence, and suddenly I heard a noise coming from the ceiling. I was scared and I noticed that there was a small loft. The next day, a neighbour helped me open the loft. Unexpectedly, we found a suitcase that contained photos, letters and documents that had belonged to a woman named Suzanne.
Reading her letters, I learned that she was a Vietnamese woman who had been a teacher in her home country. There, she fell in love with an Englishman, and finally they decided to move to London together. This happened in 70s. Apparently she began to experience signs of a rare disease: loss of speech and isolation behaviour.
I also found out from her letters that she had changed her name in London, because her real name was very difficult to pronounce for English people. She called herself Suzanne in honour of Leonard Cohen's song.
I want to explore the story of Suzanne, and share my discoveries and emotions through this photography project.
Additionally, is there any reciprocation between Suzanne and myself? We have both lived in the same space. I am a foreigner in London, I work in a school, and I have modified my name because it was difficult for my students to pronounce. I also love silence ...
Firstly, in this project there was a stage of research, going both through the documents and photos that I already found, and to external sources (google, books and documents of that time, archives and information).
After that, there was an active stage, in which I travelled to Vietnam, took pictures and visited the places Suzanne might have been and get to know some people. That connected me with the goal of my project.
Finally, there was a technical stage: film processing, scanning, video editing and printing.
This series brings together my creative passions: collages; analogic photography; videos and texts/drawings, developing a visual-experimental narrative.