Water Rites. By Lucinda Devlin, with an essay by Michael Mackenzie. Steidl, 2004. 112 pp., illustrated throughout, 25x28cm. Images from here.
"The American photographer Lucinda Devlin photographed the interiors of German spa facilities: sites at which people can apparently be cured of chronic illnesses.
More and more, these places are becoming leisure-time oases, whether they are from the 19th century, the post-war period or today.
The clinically sterile rooms for massages, baths, examinations and relaxation are deserted. They are silent testimonials to the healing industry, which is thoughtfully tailored to people, even while its equipment subjugates them completely.
They recall rooms of Devlin’s earlier series: the operating rooms, mortuaries and autopsy rooms in 'Corporal Arenas' and the American execution chambers in 'The Omega Suites'.
With her coolly remote photographs, Devlin presents the relationships between people and institutions and then shows how certain facilities depersonalize those relationships.
'Water Rites' conveys an insightful view into the - typically German? - mentality and source of our institutionalized humanity."