Condemned: Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis by Robin Hammond presents a profound body of work produced over seven years in nine African countries. "Condemned" was selected for the 2013 FotoEvidence Book Award by a prestigious international jury. Hammond captures both the deplorable conditions that the mentally ill endure and the overwhelming challenge that mental health workers face with limited resources and inadequate or failed systems health care systems in which the mentally ill have the lowest priority. Interviews with both the incarcerated mentally ill and those working to heal them - secular mental health workers and both Christian and Muslim faith healers - provide blunt evidence of the past trauma and current suffering of his subjects and the challenges and frustration of those struggling with limited resources to find ways to address the needs of vast numbers of mentally ill. Shame and prejudice based on traditional and religious beliefs about mental illness add cultural obstacles to the effective treatment of the mentally ill in many regions of Africa. The hardbound book measures 8 inches by 12 inches, with a matt laminated cover. It contains 89 black and white images, an introduction by the photographer and raw fragments of interviews conducted with patients, care givers, healers, and mental health administrators. Printed on 100lb paper on a Heidelberg press at Ofset Yapimavi in Istanbul, the photographs bring a rich aesthetic feel to a subject matter that could be considered harsh and disturbing.
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