Cecilia Portal

La Granja
The Farm

La Granja (The Farm) is a series of images taken in a psychiatric farm outside the city of Pachuca in the state of Hidalgo in Mexico, and was part of an effort to expose the abuse in the Mexican mental healthcare system: the inhumane conditions of these facilities where patients were sleeping on newspaper and cardboard on the floor, bathed with hoses in the outdoor patio and fed only once a day. Many patients were not receiving any medications at all. The series was photographed in less than two hours and without official authorization. Many of the photographs were taken after the patients had been hosed down in the patio. Using a twin lense Rollie Flex 2 1/4 camera, we started to go through the different wards taking pictures. Eventually the morning shift arrived as well as the director and I was asked to leave. Mexico City newspapers wouldn’t publish the photographs because they were nudes, but they did publish several articles that resulted in the firing of the Director and better conditions for the patients.