Anders Petersen, one of Sweden’s most influential auteur photographers, sensitively blurs the boundaries between madness and normality in his artwork “Mental Hospital”. Petersen, who won international renown with his Hamburg Café Lehmitz series (1967-1970), spent several years photographing patients at a psychiatric hospital just south of Stockholm. His gaze is one of raw tenderness, conveying naked emotions with insightful poetry. Carried by a deep integrity, he takes the viewer to the limits of normality.
“It is the naked encounter, the raw, piercing confrontation with the Other and therefore with myself,” Petersen said, describing his intention. “I photograph people with whom I can identify and I feel attracted by people who live outside society. In all my photographs, I try, essentially, to create self-portraits.” He is neither sentimental nor sensational. Instead, his images show a great respect for that which is enigmatic in people, for that which is hidden under the surface.
Petersen’s works have marked the history of photography. In 2003, he won the award “Photographer of the Year” at the festival “Rencontres de la Photographie” in Arles, and he was honored with the German Photography Society’s Dr.-Erich-Salomon prize in 2008 for his life’s work.