Richard Mosse represented Ireland in 2013 with The Enclave, a multi-media installation at the 55th International Art Exhibition. The Commissioner and Curator was Anna O’Sullivan, Director of the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland.
Mosse’s practice resides at the interface between documentary journalism and contemporary art. For centuries, the Congo has compelled and defied the Western imagination. Richard Mosse brought 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.
Infrared film found civilian uses among cartographers, agronomists, minerologists, and archaeologists, to reveal subtle changes in the landscape. In the late 1960s, the medium was appropriated in artwork for rock musicians like the Grateful Dead or Jimi Hendrix, trickling into the popular imagination as the palette of psychedelic experience, eventually accumulating the aesthetic of kitsch.
With the collaboration of cinematographer Trevor Tweeten and composer Ben Frost, Mosse created a highly immersive five-screen multimedia installation titled The Enclave.
The Enclave was a mythic conflation of many discrete rebel enclaves in Eastern Congo. During a period of two years Mosse, Tweeten, and Frost inserted themselves as journalists within armed groups, which fight nomadically in a war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres and systematic sexual violence. Film, photography, and sound recorded during these trips was used in the production of the Venice project.
“I am beginning to perceive this vicious loop,” Mosse wrote from Goma, “of subject and object. The camera provokes an involuntary unraveling, a mutual hijack of authorship and autonomy.”Neither scripted nor directed, Congolese rebels return the gaze of Mosse’s camera in a distinctly confrontational and accusatory manner. The camera seems to mesmerize and provoke everyone who encounterd it in The Enclave. This precarious face-off revealed an ambiguous defiance, vulnerability, and indictment.
About the artist
Richard Mosse’s (b. Ireland 1980) work has been exhibited at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Barbican Art Gallery, London; Bass Museum, Miami; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; Kunsthaus Munich; Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Open Eye Liverpool; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Mosse is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Performing and Visual Arts and a Visual Arts Bursary from the Irish Arts Council. He was recently a resident at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. Mosse holds an MFA in photography from Yale University and a postgraduate diploma in fine art from Goldsmiths College, London. He also holds a first-class BA in English literature from King’s College London and an MA in cultural studies from the London Consortium (ICA, AA, Tate, Birkbeck). Aperture Foundation and Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting co-published his first monograph, Infra. Mosse is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. A publication entitled The Enclave, with an essay by Jason Stearns, was subsequently published by Aperture Foundation to coincide with this exhibition.