Lay Her Down Upon Her Back


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It's unfortunate that for centuries women were silenced and neglected by the dominant members of society: men. Luckily, nowadays the medical diagnosis known as female hysteria is no longer recognised by medical authorities and considered to be a myth created by men sometime around the 18th century. The most common solution for a so-called "ill-temper" back in 1880, were specially constructed sanatoriums where women could undergo the so-called Rest Cure, a treatment accompanied by male doctors. The core of such treatment was bed rest, over-feeding, isolation, and electrocution.

Passionate about discovering new meaning in discarded imagery and exploring fictional narratives, emerging photographer Róisín White (b. Ireland) created the project Lay Her Down Upon Her Back. The series examines the legacy of the nervous disposition (mis)treatment by assembling archival images and combining them with her own ink sketches, collages, still-life photographs and classic nude representations. The main inspiration for White’s work is her collection of medical textbooks that show female patients in different poses on hospital beds. Portraying women on the verge of a nervous breakdown almost as if they were undergoing an exorcism practice, gives the photographer an opportunity to highlight the impossible situations that most of the women found themselves in.

Róisín White is selected for New Irish Works and her work is exhibited at PhotoIreland Festival, Dublin, May 1 – July 31, 2019.