Mental illness | Photographer: Lauren Simonutti | BLACK AND WHITE |

Lauren E. Simonutti, 1968, USA, passed away last week due to complications from her illness. On March 28th, 2006 she started hearing voices and was diagnosed with "rapid cycling, mixed state bipolar with schizoaffective disorder". She felt she was going mad and spent her last years almost in isolation. She turned the camera on herself and the space she was living in. She has left us with an impressive, honest and strong body of work. With her photographs she gave a voice to those that suffer in isolation.


Mental illness is not something easily understood. Most of us only hear about it through television or the cinema, which tends to sensationalize the condition. Rarely do we meet a person truly afflicted with mental illness who can explain it. In 2006, Lauren E. Simonutti started hearing three distinct voices in her right ear, the ear she lost hearing in years prior. After numerous hospitalizations and mis-diagnoses, Lauren was finally given a name to her illness, rapid cycling, mixed state bipolar with schizoaffective disorder, and given proper medicines which allows her to function with great clarity on a daily basis. 

Taking pictures since she was twelve, Lauren turned the camera on herself, photographing within the confines of her home, which she has rarely left since 2006. The result of this self-imposed isolation is a haunting, honest body of work about mental illness and a testament to her resilience and need to confront and understand her condition.