In 2006 photographer Jeremy Harris came across a decaying building in upstate New York that he would later discover to be the former Buffalo State Lunatic Asylum. The experience of seeing paint that had faded and crackled from sunlight and time, rusted metal doors, and remnants of former patients touched off what would become several years or finding and documenting abandoned asylums that were once such critical focal points of the psychiatric treatment in America.
Harris initially set out to uncover the history of each location, traveling across New England and conducting personal research along the way. The tone of the series conveys a sense of wanting to preserve and remember the memory of the people who once filled the spaces and roamed the halls of these psychiatric institutes. Old toothbrushes with the names of former patients hang in an rusted cabinet like stalactites in a cave. Lone wheelchairs dot a solitary hallway as though patients only recently walked away from them. Impressive, also, is the condition of many of the asylums considering they have been abandoned since the 1980s, and much earlier in some cases, untouched by restoration efforts.
All photos by Jeremy Harris