Curated by Maggie Goddard, Brown University doctorate degree candidate, the latest exhibition at the Cleveland Print Room is a truly unique and challenging viewing experience. Inside Outside: Dr. Jelliffe's Slides features an early twentieth century "magic lantern" slide collection from the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Hospital, now known as the Neurological Institute of New York, part of the Columbia University Medical Center. Although the photographer of these slides is unknown, the collection was formerly owned by physician Smith Ely Jelliffe, who used the slides for public and professional presentations. An author, professor and physician, Dr. Jelliffe was one of the earliest proponents of psychoanalysis in the U.S. These slides include photographs of patients, hospitals, diagrams, X-rays and even artwork by patients. Dr. Jelliffe's slide collection is currently owned by vernacular photography collector and dealer Stacy Waldman.
"The collection challenges viewers and elicits conversations about the ethics of viewing," says Goddard. "How can we view patients in a way that humanizes rather than further objectifies them? If we consider the history of outsider art, how can we read these images as part of that legacy, and how can we blur the distinction between art and clinical tool?"
For the exhibition at Cleveland Print Room, the 3-inch by 4-inch glass slides are displayed in several formats: illuminated within lightbox cases, reproduced as enlarged prints, digitally displayed on an iPad and projected onto the gallery walls.
The exhibition also features a second show of original artwork by artists responding to the slides, as well as a series of workshops proposed by participating artists. Both the slides and the artists' responses challenge viewers and encourage conversations about the history and ethics of mental health treatment.
Inside Outside: Dr. Jelliffe's Slides opens at the Cleveland Print Room with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 20, and remains on view through March 17. In conjunction with the opening, the Cleveland Print Room hosts a panel discussion in its gallery at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21. The panel will discuss the slides and local artists' responses, as well as the history of psychoanalysis and the issues raised regarding the treatment of mental illness.
Moderated by Transformer Station gallery manager Caitie Moore, the panel includes James Edmonson from Case Western Reserve University's Dittrick Medical History Center; Ewald Horwath, chair of the department of psychiatry at MetroHealth; Barbara Tannenbaum, photography curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art; and present owner of the slide collection Waldman and exhibition curator Goddard.