stories

The Damned

To get inside Borda Hospital is like walking on a fragile ground, an uncertain floor where you’re always on the verge of sinking. Reality becomes unsteady and you can’t be sure of anything. Today you hear a story, but tomorrow the same story will be different. Next week it will be a myth or a forgotten rumor. Nothing is certain, everything is precarious. Even the Hospital itself is always about to disappear, and it’s not just figurative speech. Politicians and entrepreneurs dream about taking the 100 acres belonging to the hospital to rise office buildings and expensive condos. A flat, sterilized neighborhood that would look like a playground for toys. But that megalomaniac project has a hindrance: the Borda patients, who look nothing like the standardized dolls inside trendy architects designs. The Borda inhabitants are the nightmare of these technocrats. Between sanity and madness there is a thin line that questions us all. But there are also concrete walls that are real, hiding  the insanity of a city as an attempt to put a veil on a family taboo. Nevertheless, the secret is spilled out by the countless social and artistic organizations that work with the patients. They have given a voice to those who were supposed to remain silent. Those voices struggle every day against stigmatization and abandonment. They scream, whisper, they stay quiet, get fragmented, they weave other stories; stories of men outside time.

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Looking through a broken window in a neglected building in Borda psychiatric hospital.

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José Tiburcio Borda psychiatric hospital in Buenos Aires, in the Barracas district, is one of Argentina’s largest mental health institutions.

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Pablo Morales has been an intern in Borda psychiatric hospital for many years. He came to Buenos Aires when he was young and dreamt of becoming a professional footballer.... (+)

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Sandro came to the hospital after finding his wife in the arms of another, in their bed. He couldn’t stand it and became violent. He first stayed in Unit 20, the penal section of the hospital. Now he wanders between the inside and outside.... (+)

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Inside the Borda psychiatric hospital.

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The buildings of Argentina’s biggest pyschiatric hospital, The Borda.

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A piece produced by Borda’s cultural centre, a workshop that allows interns to express their creativity several times a week.

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Neglected buildings in Borda psychiatric hospital, where patients come and rest when they have nowhere else to go.

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A psychiatric patient during a theatre workshop, organised by the hospital Artists’ Front once a week.

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View of an abandoned service in Borda psychiatric hospital.

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An art installation in one of the hospital trees.

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Jagger is a day patient at Borda psychiatric hospital. He takes part in some workshops run by Borda’s Artists’ Front, he eats with Cooperanza and works for the Pan del Borda.... (+)

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«La Colifata» building, Borda psychiatric hospital patient radio.

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Graffiti on Borda walls. «Paranoico» (paranoid), «Depresivo» (depressed), «Psiquiatra» (psychiatrist).

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Not much natural light comes into La Borda.

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Eber Isaac Beltrán presents the programme «momento Boliviano» on Borda’s radio, Colifata. When asked how long he has been doing this for, he gets his calculator out. He communicates directly with the sky and his native mountains.

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The 14/22 service used to treat psychiatric patients suffering from AIDS and drug-related problems. The current government ordered the closure of the service and transferred the patients to private clinics.... (+)

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Torres Ochoa has his own programme on radio Colifata. Every Saturday, at nightfall, he plays songs from the Altiplano and invokes Pachamama (Mother Earth), for the programme «Momento Boliviano» that he co-hosts with Eber Beltran.... (+)

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Portrait of Pablo Morales, a patient in the hospital.

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Paint cheers the hospital walls up.

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