Letters from Ernestine K

Stefan Dolfen

An exploration of a psychiatric institution in Germany in the late 1980s / early 1990s through a series of patient portraits and fictionalised letters.

Living and working with the residents of Bethel over an extended period and developing strong personal relationships with some of the patients, Dolfen sought to confront the more common images the mentally ill and to examine the power relationship between the photographer and the photographed. Ernestine K is a name used to represent the women of Bethel, the letters authored by Bethel Adelheid Rieffel. Dolfen was a participant in the Unclear Family photographic workshops in Crook, Co Durham (1993), Amiens, Northern France (1994), Luby, Czechoslovakia (1995 and Borbek, Essen in Germany. Working in Newcastle and Fishburn in 1992 he developed Love of My Choice. He brought this exhibition to Side Gallery in December 1994.

All images © Stefan Dolfen

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