TORN OUT PAGES…GUIDO
Sometimes photography is work; sometimes it's a necessity, like breathing.
Guido was my neighbor, the sweet neighborhood loony that nobody dared to talk to. I met him one day, when he was denied entry into a coffee place. Since then he became part of my life. Every week he used to unexpectedly show up in front of my door asking for coffee, a bit of food or just some company. Like many people suffering from mental illnesses, he was always alone. Often discriminated and ridiculedin the street, he felt safe at my place where he could be himself without being judged. We spent a lot of time together and I started following him with my camera everywhere. He loved it and wanted me to make a movie about him.
Guido was a famous Dutch sculptor until his thirties, when he started having psychotic episodes. In one of them he decided to dress like a woman and changed his name to Evelien. The Following episode was heavier and he disappeared for a year to be finally found in Turkey. His brother flew to Istanbul to look for him and found him after two days.
Everybody knew Guido in that town, although his new name was Abdullah. He had been living in the streets or at people´s guest rooms during all this time.
How, is still a mystery… but everybody loved Abdullah.
After Guido was brought back to Amsterdam he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, drugged and finally discarded by a system that didn't know how tohelp him. He was given a monthly shot of heavy antipsychotic medicines and left on his own. But he could never work or be the same Guido anymore and lived sedated and all by himself in his atelier. Just another sad history of a broken life due to mental illness. Another sad history of loneliness.
Thanks to Guido I became more patient, less self centered and kinder. I learnt compassion, and I did learn not to judge so fast and easily as we all do nowadays.
He opened my eyes about the reality of mental illnesses, which I am still trying to document with some other “special” souls.
Still, when I look at these pictures I feel a lot of pain and frustration. Pain thinking about my friend, who spent his last days locked in a psychiatric ward of a cold mental hospital. Far from his home and world.. far from everything. Alone.
Frustration, because I have seen with my own eyes how difficult and challenging life is for people affected by mental illnesses and how society still looks into another direction and ignores it.
Guido was the most "special " person I have ever met.
He was way too pure and nice for this world. He could see beauty everywhere, even where there was none.
I hope you are better now, wherever you are...