SUSAN AYDAN ABBOTT

BOOBY HATCH (WO)MANIFESTO: A FEMININE PERSPECTIVE OF CENTURY MANOR 1

The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane began operation in 1876 in response to a need for the maintenance of “demented minds and lunatics.” Spanning over 529 acres, it was capable of housing nearly 1000 patients. Having spent my youth in the area I'm interested in this place and its history: female hysteria, harsh treatments and procedures (including restraints, lobotomies, electroshock therapy), vintage photographs, artifacts, tools and equipment, underground tunnels, ghost stories, and the spectacle of Sunday afternoon picnics on hospital grounds where affluent folks came to watch, tease and taunt patients as a form of free entertainment. Century Manor, the grand three-storey mansion that sits on Hamilton’s escarpment brow, is the only significant part of the original facility still standing but is under threat of demolition as the former asylum's lands are being sold by the Province of Ontario. Convinced that the building should stand as a bastion of the treatment and history of mental illness, I feel an urgency to record and document its essence. Booby Hatch (Wo)manifesto: A Feminine Perspective of Century Manor will explore the asylum's dark past in tangent with my own personal history of mental illness. The project's intent is to bring darkness to light by confronting how unresolved trauma lingers, smouldering in the shadows, permeating in the soil, the landscape, the structure (of both the asylum and myself). It speaks of suffocating, obstructed, constricted, asphyxiated shame.

 

This work has been funded with grants from Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council.


FINISHED WORKS

FACADE 2018 DIPTYCH

“Look at that ugly dead mask here and do not forget it. It is a chalk mask with dead dry poison behind it, like the death angel. It is what I was this fall, and what I never want to be again. The pouting disconsolate mouth, the flat, bored, numb, expressionless eyes: symptoms of the foul decay within.” Sylvia Plath

facade 1  "Masks are the order of the day - and the least I can do is cultivate the illusion that I am gay, serene, not hollow and afraid."

24"x 24"

oil on canvas

2018

facade 2  “I felt the mask crumple, the great poisonous store of corrosive ashes begin to spew out of my mouth."

 24"x 24"

oil on canvas

2018

ASILE FANTÔME
18"x24"
metal print
2018