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Richard Mosse: Infra

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While still only in his early thirties, Richard Mosse has exhibited his work internationally, from Tate Modern to Akademie der Künste, Berlin, and Kunsthalle, Munich. His work has already been collected by several museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne. He is representing Ireland at the Venice Biennale 2013 with The Enclave, an immersive multimedia installation projected onto several screens, and composed of footage shot last year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo using an Arri and 16mm infrared film (transferred to HD), with a soundscape recorded on location. To coincide with the Biennale, Aperture has published his second monograph. Issues such as othering, intrusion and dehumanisation loom over these works, and Mosse has previously told CR that he feels they “revealed something about how our governments represent and therefore regard the figure of the refugee”. Still from Incoming #27, Mediterranean Sea, 2016. Image couresty SVPL Trinh T. Minh-ha, Framer Framed, New York: Routledge, 1992, cited in Judith Butler, Frames of War. When is Life Grievable? London and New York: Verso, 2010, p. 8.

Mosse’s words and his pictorial Pop Art Congo remind us of Joseph Conrad’s subtler creation. Mosse’s touching inadequacy sets up a dialectical tension between ‘the limits of articulation’ and the ethical urge ‘to attempt to describe the unspeakable world’. Like documentary photography, Heart of Darkness also justifies itself as a witnessing, but qualified by claiming its inadequacy. Repeatedly, Mosse’s interviews mention Conrad’s novella, juxtaposing Conrad’s Congo to the post-genocidal country of today: Richard Mosse (born 1980) is an Irish conceptual documentary photographer, living in New York City and Ireland. [1] [2] Early life and education [ edit ]


As the refugee crisis reached a fever pitch in 2015—with over a million individuals entering Europe—increasing numbers of photographers traveled to document the struggle. The resulting images have been instrumental in bringing transparency to the the often-squalid living conditions, violence, death, and human rights violations that individuals and families are experiencing within the camps—and raising awareness around the dire need for action on the part of governments across the world.

The great labyrinth of all the photographs in the world’. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida. Reflections on Photography, London: Vintage Classics, 2000, p. 73. The denunciation of documenting spectacles has a long history, from Tertullian to Debord.37 Luc Boltanski’s Distant Suffering (1992) argues instead that while the media contributes to pacification and apathy, we can respond in several ways, one being the silent wonder of the sublime. But the sublime involves a suppression of pity, resulting in a transformation of feeling through ‘sublimation.’38 Boltanski singles out and historicises our modern concept of viewer, as one which equates with passivity, conveyed by the ‘spectator’ metaphor (Debord, Baudrillard, Virilio). By contrast, Boltanski recovers a range of responses to suffering, ranging from nihilism and relativism, to a critique of the hypocrisy of the world, an emphasis on its illusory nature, a comparison of its unreality to the authentic reality of the next, a distancing effect, or detachment.39 Suffering can be perceived as touching, sublime or even plainly unjust.40 This latter reaction, within a public sphere, enables a critical response of indignation leading to an impetus toward remedial action.41 A few years ago we shared photographer Richard Mosse‘s unique infrared imagery that he had shot in The Democratic Republic of Congo for his series Infra. Taking advantage of an old type of Kodak film called Aerochrome, he infused new color into this war-torn and often forgotten part of the Earth.In this video for leading contemporary art magazine Frieze, Mosse introduces his latest work and touches on the dissonance of rendering aesthetically sublime such scenes of turmoil. Mosse began working on the series three years ago, spurred by the growing urgency of the situation for refugees fleeing the Middle East and Northern Africa. “This has become one of the big subjects of our time,” Mosse says. But he has by no means been alone in the effort. An online magazine featuring the latest arts, design, film & music coverage in the UK. Our mission: to hold a mirror up to the national -- in particular the North-West -- art scene and reflect it, uncovering and analysing the talent based here.

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See Laura Mulvey, Death 24x a Second. Stillness and the Moving Image, London: Reaktion Books 2004, pp. 123-143. Mulvey’s delay builds on Neorealist aesthetics. Infra is framed by a reading of Conrad which has more affinity with Apocalypse Now as metaphor of unknowable evil than with Conrad’s subtle denunciation in what passes off as fiction, but is rooted in experience: his Congo Diary. Heart of Darkness is the literary trace of a real journey into the Congo of nineteenth-century imperialism. If Conrad constantly shifts the viewpoint, he does so by problematizing the narrative with ‘the posture of uncertainty and doubt’.32 But it is a posture which suggests to his readers, through epistemological doubting, unpalatable interpretations of the colonial world offering hints and clues to aid the understanding of a controversial contradiction: the eloquent heights of Victorian moralism glossing over unspeakable depths of exploitation. Conrad’s resistance to European imperialism takes the form of Marlow’s oblique narrative, mediating between author, the imaginative faculty, and the real. But the imagination has an ethical purpose: to provoke thought and do so by expressing epistemological doubts about mainstream views. In a Victorian context, the objective state of affairs of British and Belgian colonial greed can only be signalled by Conrad, through delayed decoding.33

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