“Infirmary” by Niall Craven

In the center of an old infirmary a funnel of wind begins to spin, at first slowly, but then faster and faster until it whirls around with all the energy of a dancer in the throes of their performance drawing in material and rising several feet into the air, an inverted obelisk of dust and labour and life.

After a moment the whirling begins to die. It’s energy is spent and nothing sustains it. The dust that was once a frenzied tornado returns lifeless and inert to the ground from where it had come. Once again the scene is still and the clinic quiet.

On a desk in the corner of the room is a book. There are figures, petrified in silver gelatin within pages that have become worn through use and frequent examination. Flicking through you can see patients, who once lived, have now died and whose bodies lie entombed here.

There used to be people here, in these beds. People took their meals and slept here and the nurses listened to their complaints and their groans and the doctors examined and tended to their maladies and when the photographer came he documented their cases one by one, going down the beds with his camera, framing and suspending their figures in cellulose film.

These bodies belong to other men now. Examined, diagnosed, researched and categorised. Each time the photographs are printed the people that once were in these beds disappear. Their bones don’t ache anymore. Their ears don’t ring, their stomachs don’t complain, their heads don’t throb.  Once again the scene is still.