Nostalgia is a funny thing. I took this photograph of the chapel underneath the towers at Buffalo State Hospital some time in the mid-2000s. In the years after this photograph was taken, I built three campsites inside the building, so that I could get some kip during the hours of darkness that were relatively useless, photographically speaking. The first of these was very simple - a pile of blankets in a carpeted room on the floor below this one. When the Administration pavilion - the building with the towers - was sealed off with a welded metal plate in 2007, I built a second campsite in the cafeteria annex, using sheets of window insulation as “beds”. I used this on several trips into the asylum. On my final trip, finding this insufficient for two nights’ decent repose, we dragged two old patient mattresses out of the basement and set them up in the attic. I jumped back over the fence and made a run to K-Mart to buy sheets and pillows. I had no idea that this would be my last trip.
Shortly after this, I advised the owners of the property on how to seal up the viable entrances, as vandals were getting into the building. I had thought we had an unspoken agreement that, in return, I would have access to shoot one or two more times - but the owners turned out to be hostile, even to their unofficial “security advisor”. I received a laughable letter some months ago from their lawyer, advising me to stop displaying photos like this one (taken over 8 years ago) because they were proof of trespassing (which has a maximum statute of limitations of 3 years in New York State). My friends and I had a bit of sport over that one; who did they think they were fooling?
But man, that nostalgia eats at me… what I wouldn’t give for one more night in that final campsite, falling asleep to the gentle flutter of bat wings and the promise of wonderful morning light.