For the fate of a boobhead is
That men do him bind
And plant him in the digger
Till he goes out of his mind,
- James K. Baxter

Chambers responds to the idea that photography can transmit the psychic climate of an architectural environment.

Prisons and psychiatric hospitals are the acme of architectural control. As physical manifestations of ideology, heirachy and state control, they are among the purest expressions of power. These spaces force a specific set of experiences upon the inhabitants, whose cumulative emotional responses palpably steep the spaces’ atmosphere.

Produced between 2000 and 2005, Chambers is a comprehensive appraisal of the interiors of the prisons and psychiatric hospitals of Aotearoa New Zealand, both active and abandoned to ruin. 
(100+ 8X10 colour negative interior studies + detail studies. First-person narratives.)

Selected Media:

The photographs chart an architecture of despair; they force the viewer to feel the psychological weight of spaces where normative behaviour is regulated.
2001 / 01 Sep / Review / Aaron Lister / Art New Zealand / Issue 100

“Rotman’s rationale is empirical and his scope comprehensive..... Rotman desires the viewer experience what ‘they claim to know but have not seen’, to face our own assumptions and preconceptions regarding the actualities of imprisonment. His personal mission is to implant these ‘empty’ buildings and cells (and perhaps the sense of fear and horror they instill) onto individual consciousness, thereby inserting them into the collective psyche.”
2001 / Essay / Zara Stanhope / Parallel Worlds / Victoria University Press

“Rotman’s empty rooms are compelling for where they lead our imaginations. The spaces are heavy with narrative possibility and with the absence of humans, we attend to every detail of the room..... These photographs might allow us to come close to realising the potential of the institutional space as metaphor, a kind of echoing of the hollowed-out subjectivity that might reside within it.”  
2005 / Essay / Kyla Mcfarlane / Still Present / Victoria University Press

“Every dark scratch and slash of light in these images is a mark of what is both absent and present. In 'Dayroom, Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital' rows of empty, picked-at chairs sit awaiting bodies, facing out of the frame while directly in front us the light glints off a large wall painting of a typical sublime New Zealand mountain landscape. It's this contradiction between imprisonment and transcendence that makes these images sing.”
2005 / Review / Mark Amery / The Dominion Post

“Rotman’s illuminated light boxes allowed us to experience the emptiness of banishment.
2005 / Review / Andrea Bell / Un Magazine


2005 / Still Present: Exploring Psychiatric Institutions in Photography. Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
2003 / Interiors. McNamara Gallery, Wanganui, Aotearoa New Zealand
2001 / Parallel Worlds. Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand & Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, Australia
2001 / Art Futures. Pataka Gallery, Porirua, Aotearoa New Zealand.

All work © Jono Rotman.