[Image: Men of Good Fortune, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, by Richard Mosse (2011)].
Photographer Richard Mosse, whom long-time readers might recognize from his two interviews here on BLDGBLOG, will be celebrating a new show tonight, Thursday, November 17th, at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City.
[Image: Lava Floe, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, by Richard Mosse (2011)].
Richard will be showing new work from his Infra series, taken on a series of trips to the Congo, visiting tribal reconciliation gatherings, deserted battlefields, UN-administered aid camps, active war zones, and remote mountain villages in the extraordinary rolling landscape.
[Images: (top to bottom) Flower of the Mountain, House Of Cards V, and Come Out (1966) II, all by Richard Mosse, North Kivu, Eastern Congo (2011)].
From the gallery description:
For centuries, the Congo has compelled and defied the Western imagination. Richard Mosse brings to this subject the use of a discontinued military surveillance technology, a type of color infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome. Originally developed for camouflage detection, this aerial reconnaissance film registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson, and hot pink.
However, infrared film “also found civilian uses among cartographers, agronomists, hydrologists, and archaeologists,” the gallery adds, “to reveal subtle changes in the landscape”—and it was in this capacity that Richard first picked up on the conceptual power of the technique.
He began visiting the Congo, using infrared film to document the line between the living and the dead in the war-torn landscape, as living vegetation when exposed on this film appears in blood-like shades of burgundy, pink, and violet, and artificial materials—from army uniforms to discarded weapons—fall flat, appearing nearly black & white like blurs and specters in the terrain.
[Images: (top) Nowhere To Run, South Kivu, Eastern Congo (2010); (bottom) Taking Tiger Mountain, North Kivu, Eastern Congo (2011), by Richard Mosse].
However, does the surreal transformation of the landscape here make the reality they depict seem that much more dreamlike and politically unreachable—as if we’ve stumbled upon some strange and very alien race of warriors living amidst military hardware and forests the color of chewing gum, like strandees in a spectacular videogame, where pure white clouds hover above an earth the color of merlot?
Or is that part of a deliberate strategy, a comment on the seemingly impossible task of representing African conflict? Put another way, what specific interpretive role does the filmstock itself play in this scenario?
[Image: Blue Mask, Lake Kivu, Eastern Congo (2010) by Richard Mosse].
In any case, stop by the Jack Shainman Gallery tonight to talk to the artist and see the work at full scale.