Riverview Hospital Coquitlam


It’s sometimes odd how as photographers we seek out places from the past to create images for the present.  It’s a common theme to capture something that is on the cusp of disappearing.  From the very beginning photographers have tried to stem the tide of time going to great lengths, even recreating pseudo realities of times already gone.  It’s as if we can’t wait for our images to evoke a sense of nostalgia.  If we take pictures of the ‘right now’ it seems too mundane it doesn’t spark the same thing in the viewer.  That sense of this is something different because it is no longer here.  It takes time to make many things interesting.  An early cell phone didn’t seem interesting beyond its technological function at the time say 20 years ago but its sure a ‘huge’ source of amusement now.   Think of a portrait viewed at the time it was taken. It’s generally appreciated as a likeness of the person and not necessarily more but fast forward 30 years and that portrait now speaks to the passage of time, to fashion to aging.   What does all this have to do with pictures I took around the grounds of the now closed Riverview hospital complex?  Well I took these pictures now because I’m almost certain it won’t be there in the future, I’m hedging my nostalgia bet.   There is a lot of history here and in the future when we think back to how we handle the issues around mental illness perhaps a few photographs could be illustrative.  I would love to take more with greater access but that seems unlikely.  I do wonder how many photographs were taken around the site over its operating history. I suspect that it may be less than imagined do to the stigma that has always surrounded mental health and the societal norm of secrecy.

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