You may know Julia Wertz as the hilarious cartoonist behind The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, The Fart Pary and many other books. but she also has a thriving hobby in urban exploring: going into abandoned buildings and photographing them. You can find examples on her Flickr stream and amazing galleries on her website. In the about page she explains some of her motives:
My favorite places to explore are abandoned psychiatric hospitals, as my main interest is the history of mental illness in regards to various treatments based on science and philosophy. I’m fascinated by the medical advances and misconceptions that shaped treatment in the past few hundred years, and how little we know about it even today. I’ve spent countless hours crouched in dark, moldy basements unearthing, reading and photographing patient records dating back to the mid 1800′s in an effort to attain physical evidence of the varied treatments and misdiagnosis of patients. These files show first-hand how the behaviors and characteristics of mental illnesses have changed with cultural, technological, and scientific advances. And yes, I know I could just read some books or use google, which I have, of course, but I like to learn by doing. And I like to see what I’ve read in books and on the internet existing on real paper in real time, and to watch the progression (and sometimes regression) of science and medicine as depicted in doctors’ and psychiatrists’ reports.
The New York Post has a gallery of her asylum photos, although the photos never loaded on my browser. Traipsing around abandoned buildings is indeed an odd and fascinating things to do; but it gets a little too scary for me. Wertz reveals that she’s so used to it that she doesn’t get frightened, and inappropriately for today:
“Haunted house movies are my favorite, but I don’t believe in the paranormal or haunting or the occult or any of that.”