Lauren E. Simonutti: “Nothing is real but everything is true” (madness, my love…)

Posted on January 3, 2014 by



I began to break time down.
Smaller and smaller parcels are easier to digest, easier to recognize, easier to bear.
This would be the math:

4 birthdays
3 + 1/2 years
42 months
1307 days (taking into account the leap year)
1,882,080 minutes
112,924,800 seconds

I would anatomize it further but it might make me appear obsessive.


The problem with insanity is that you can feel it coming, but when you tell people you think you are going crazy they don’t believe you. It is too distant a concept. Too melodramatic. You don’t believe it yourself until you have fallen so quickly and so far that your fingernails are the only thing holding you up, balanced with your feet dangling on either side of a narrow fence with your heart and mind directly over center, so that when you do fall it will split you in two. Split equally. So there’s not even a stronger side left to win.

For mental illness the cure is not worse — because nothing is worse — but is just as bad as the disease. At the end of the end of the rope, after several years of trial and error, prescribed drug after drug, commitments, hospitalizations and three inexplicably unsuccessful suicide attempts, it came down to one last try.

Sequestered in the house that I had made, a madhouse in its own right, only leaving to see the doctor or for food, I am dosed with as much stardust* as a body can take without breaking, trying to balance the threat of organ failure against the redirection of the bio-chemical misfirings that conspire to convince me to destroy all.

(*Lithium really is stardust. It is the 3rd to last element that an exploding star expels before it goes nova. Only hydrogen and helium come after).I am aware enough to know the things I see and hear are not real, but that does not mean I do not still see them.I have reached the point where if I do not have a photograph of something I cannot be certain it happened. So, locked inside the house with nothing else left, I shoot this. Heart & mind, hallucination & dream. I figure it could go one of two ways — I will either capture my ascension from madness to as much a level of sanity for which one of my composition could hope, or I will leave a document of it all, in the case that I should lose……Comes a point in telling the story where you have to stop trying to direct it and simply do as you’re told. Even if you like your characters you cannot force a happy ending……As for my working technique: All work is 100% digital free. Any manipulation has been done either in camera (occasionally), or in darkroom (usually).Let me clarify that I have nothing against digital. I do not desire to disparage, denigrate or disrespect it. I simply prefer to get my hands wet.  Nearly all my images are large format (4×5 or 5×7 inch negatives) contact prints, exposed under a 100 watt bulb, then selectively bleached and toned. I apply the chemistry with brushes.

While I have my preferred techniques, (sepia, selenium and silver bleach are my main palette), there is always the element of chance. Chemistry does not always react the same, water does not always run in the same direction. I have been known to spill things. Each print is different.

Sursă citat:


Dacă ați citit fragmentul de mai sus probabil v-ați dat deja seama că Lauren E. Simonutti (1968-2012) a fost și este încă un om fascinant. Fotografia ei este complexă și complicată la fel ca mintea umană, singuratică și plină de o disperare forțată să fie constructivă, creativă, imaginativă. Despre nici un alt fotograf nu m-am gândit vreodată să spun că lucrările sale sunt imagini identice cu autorul lor, însă în cazul lui Lauren Simonutti nu numai că este evident, dar aceasta a fost și intenția autoarei, asta și nevoia aceea pe care am întâlnit-o mai mult la scriitori – a scrie pentru a te convinge de ceva, pentru a dovedi că ceva e cu adevărat real, sau faptul că scrisul e singura modalitate uneori de a face un lucru să fie perceput ca real/adevărat. Sau scrisul ca modalitate de a înțelege. Ei bine, asta face și Simonutti cu fotografia! Rareori am auzit de un fotograf care să perceapă atât de personal fotografia, ca pe un prieten și ca pe o cârjă creativă, dacă ni se permite această sintagmă. Mai este de menționat faptul că ea nu își modifica fotografiile digital, totul se petrecea în camera obscură – autoarea menționa că preferă să se murdărească pe mâini. Singurul meu regret e că nu a scris mai mult.



În 2006 a fost diagnosticată : “rapid cycling, mixed state bipolar with schizoaffective disorder”. Atunci a îndreptat camera către sine. Și-a construit astfel un mod de a comunica lumii dinafară lumea izolării în care fusese plasată fără drept de a alege:

Over (five) years I have spent alone amidst these 8 rooms, 7 mirrors, 6 clocks, 2 minds and 199 panes of glass. And this is what I saw here. This is what I learned. I figure it could go one of two ways – I will either capture my ascension from madness to as much a level of sanity for which one of my composition could hope, or I will leave a document of it all, in the case that I should lose. – Lauren E. Simonutti

My birthday was a day away and I gathered up all the things I could find in my house with a face, I bought myself a cake, I lit my candles, I posed my friends and I took the picture. Thus began a tradition. I do a photograph every year the day before my birthday, in the same room, with the same cake (it has lived in my freezer for 5 years and only comes out briefly on the 1st October then back it goes again. It is beginning to look a little the worse for wear.) These pictures mark time. They mark me. Lauren E. Simonutti


Este un univers halucinant de care nu ne putem abține să ne îndrăgostim, ceea ce vă urăm și vouă. Și mai e și un proces foarte personal de cartografiere a nebuniei, o întreprindere care mereu a avut ca rezultat cele mai surprinzătoare capodopere. Cam ca fotografiile lui Lauren E. Simonutti:








Beatrice – her story opens the book : Drowning, not waving —









The endpage of her book, Drowning, not waving:


Sources/places/ links we recommend:

1. Lensculture: Photographic notes from a madhouse.

2. Simonutti‘s Blog: The Madness is the Method. (fascinating!)

3. Drowning, not waving – the book page on Facebook, lots of images.

4. Edelmangallery – Simonutti’s page, a lot of information and pictures from The Devil’s alphabet & 8 rooms, 7 mirrors…

5. 500 photographers article (a tribute)

6. Nothing is real but everything is true.

7. Simonutti on Vimeo.