Hollywood Asylum, Film Stills Series is inspired by a true story, told by a witness of a crime of passion. A murder that took place in a hotel in 1958. There are 4 people involved, the bar manager, the murderer, the female and the witness.
What followed this crime was the collision of various institutions that are in place to reform, shape our thoughts, ideas and behaviours for the betterment of society, but this is not always the case.
All of us at some point in our lives will cross the threshold of an institution either through choice, necessity or by demand.
The photographic film stills represent the fine line between each institution and the individuals enrolled, registered, signed up, admitted or enforced there. Being a soldier, prisoner, a hollywood star and a patient. And its impact upon our behaviours, decision making, identity and ability to contribute to society.
In the 1930s and 40’s Hollywood was seen as the Golden Age of film stars and glamour. But the darker side to the industry has slowly come to light. As a child star Judy Garland talks about how the film studios demanded she’d take “pep pills” to suppress her appetite and keep up her energy. Then, at the end of each shooting day, the film studios would supply the child stars with sleeping tablets.
The connections of drug use can be seen in the military who used ‘Blue 88’ pills for soldiers in the Second World War to calm and induce sleep who experienced battle fatigue. To the prison service who according to a report, ‘Coming clean, combating drug use in prisons’ by Max Chambers, his research showed that £100m drugs are smuggled into prisons every year.
It is suggested that for someone to become institutionalised, they gradually become less able to think and act independently, because of having lived for a long time under the rules of an institution.
To conclude this is a body of work that has only just started, it is the seed to exploring the grip, and hold of society’s ever changing legacy of the impact of institutions upon our lives and souls.
Written by Sheree Murphy 2021