Different Arts is a photographic documentary study from a rehabilitation institution for psychoneurologic dispensary in St Petersburg. The institution chooses Art as part of their therapy form. During five years Oleg has had the opportunity to get to know the theatre group and document them as individuals.
”Why am I doing this? In my photo projects I try to bring up social issues of society. And I am interested in people who are less social secure, for example people who are mentally ill, sexual minorities, disabled people, etc. Being a photographer and a journalist, I see socialization and elevation of tolerance to these groups of people in society as a part of my mission. Except this, I always were attracted to ”other” people and closed communities”.
The main goal is to save the patients from the state of acute psychosis, trying to help them not to return to psychiatric hospital for emergency care. The patients come every day to get the medicin, talk with psychiatrist etc. Apart from medication such dispensary also provide therapy. Usually, such therapy is limited to simple labour which is needed for fine motor dexterity of the patients. But, in some of dispensaries, there are studios of so called ”art” therapy as well, where patients can draw, knit, model in clay, etc.
”The theatre, which I was taking pictures of, have appeared in work therapy unit since 2007, when doctors, teachers and patients started to want something more within the rehabilitaton. They are among the first to apply such visual form of art therapy in rehabilitation of mental patients in Saint Petersburg, maybe even in whole Russia. Their theatre studio is called ”Sumbur” in Russian which can be translated to English as ”mishmash”. Last year they were celebrating 10 years anniversary and I am proud to know them for 5 of those years.
The first pictures of ”Different Art” were made in 2013.
As for their diagnoses they have very different illnesses, starting from different forms of psychological disorders, to extreme forms of schizophrenia, down’s syndrome, backwardness, etc. The project is not about illness, it is more about hope and therefore the illnesses are not in focus.