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These Empty Asylums are as Pretty as They are Creeptastic

Lately it seems like everybody and their mother has taken to photographing the ruins of abandoned buildings—European churches, theaters, Italian villas, and more—capturing splendid shots of crumbling glory, and, later, upping the hue saturation into oblivion. Still, the work of photographer Jeremy Harris stands out in that, rather than capture something that was once rich and elegant, he turns his attention to places with a more sordid history: the country's decrepit mental institutions. Most of the locations featured in Harris' American Asylums: Moral Architecture in the 19th Century series were built in the early 1800s, and feature lofty hallways, large windows, and pale paint, all of which would be rather pleasant if, well, nobody knew about the terrible psychiatric methods, overcrowded conditions, and dehumanizing treatments that later came to define these spaces.

In a mini-documentary recently a href="">unearthed by Gizmodo, harris says that the only access he had to the first building he photographed was a ladder and a second-story window, but "once you're in the main hallway of the ward, you're like, 'Wow, this is amazing,' you get this gigantic building you can spend days in just exploring."

"When I started the project, I was originally drawn to the architecture and photographing the architecture," he explains. "But then as I visited more and more sites and saw more and more patient artifacts, it was also sort of to document the spaces before they're gone." He's since collected thousands of tools, papers, and trinkets, all of which he plans to donate to a museum.

Watch the full mini-doc, right this way.

· Jeremy Harris: American Asylums of the 19th Century [Official via Gizmodo]
· All Abandonment Issues posts [Curbed National]