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Richard Mosse: Infra

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On his journeys in eastern Congo, Mosse photographed rebel groups of constantly switching allegiances, fighting nomadically in a jungle war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres, and systematic sexual violence. These tragic narratives urgently need telling but cannot be easily described. Like Joseph Conrad a century before him, Mosse discovered a disorienting and ineffable conflict situation, so trenchantly real that it verges on the abstract, at the limits of description. Focusing on the American artist's performative'Contrapposto Studies',Bruce Nauman's show atPunta della Dogana, Venice, gives new meaning to body language – on view until 27 November 2022 Catherine Opie's new exhibition ‘Walls, Windows and Blood’ is now on view at Thomas Dane Gallery, Naples The infrared film captures infrared light which is invisible to the human eye, with the "potential to make the invisible visible." Mosse draws parallels with the ongoing under-reported conflict in the Congo, where figures from the International Rescue Committee claim a total of 5.4 million people killed as a result of war since 1998.

Infra’s most interesting aspect is its referentiality. What I mean by this is the way it draws in knowledge and associations from far beyond the photograph’s literal frame. Its interpretation requires us to return the image to the context of experience, social experience and social memory. In other words, the isolated image is not isolated at all; it belongs. It stands out for its discursive nature, creating its own relational space, as theorised by political geographer David Harvey. Briefly, absolute space is our norm (mapping, Euclidean geometry, urban grids); whereas relative space takes us into referentiality, applicable to text, image or both: a problematic space of non-Euclidean geometries in which the point of view is unstable. Relational space maps out the relationship between the object and the influences bearing upon it. A photograph of Ground Zero or Tienamen Square, for example, evokes other spaces, and the connotations proliferate.17 Berger’s radial model is relational in drawing the mind outwards, regardless of Mosse’s personal views on the matter. In what follows, Berger’s radial serves to identify Infra’s most significant elements. Vincent, Alice (12 May 2014). "Richard Mosse wins Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 13 May 2014.Tipton, Gemma. "Richard Mosse: 'The idea of the artist going it alone is bogus' ". The Irish Times . Retrieved 22 April 2022. The Congolese rebels that we photographed had a very strange reaction to the camera," recalls Mosse. "They were very ambivalent."

Mosse characterizes his work "as not a reaction against journalism, but rather an artist working in places [where] journalists are working." All the mature works of this photographer, born in 1980, are in fact an attempt to demonstrate how the two paths, the one based on the need to document in a morally irreproachable manner and the other on the desire to create sublime works, can actually coincide or at least converge. Moving away from warzones and migration into the natural world, Mosse’s most recent works (Ultra and Tristes Tropiques) examine the destruction of the rainforests in South America from various perspectives. In these series, the photographer trains his eye more firmly on natural landscapes.Geoff Manaugh, ‘Leviathan: An interview with Richard Mosse’, BLDG BLOG, 21 December 2009, , accessed 26 November 2011. Visual storytelling is a powerful tool. From a country celebrating independence for the first time to citizens warring over national identity, journalistic photography can tell a story and help people understand the world. Richard Mosse, a conceptual documentary photographer and filmmaker, traveled to Congo to tell a story of conflict and human suffering that many have not seen or have forgotten. Born in Ireland and based in New York, Mosse is the winner of the 2014 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. In 2013, he represented Ireland in the Venice Biennale with The Enclave, an immersive six-channel video installation that utilized 16mm infrared film. 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 Prix Pictet 2017: Richard Mosse wins prize with heat-map shots of refugees". The Guardian, 4 May 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017 Rancière, The Future of The Image, London and New York: Verso, 2007, p. 137. 50 Rancière, ‘The Distribution of The Sensible’ in The Politics of Aesthetics, London and New York: Continuum 2008, pp. 12-19: ‘The dream of a suitable political work of art is in fact the dream of disrupting the relationship between the visible, the sayable, and the thinkable without having to use the terms of a message as a vehicle.’ Ibidem, p. 63.

David Harvey, Social Justice and The City, London: Edward Arnold 1973, p. 13. More recently, cf. Spaces of Hope, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000. David Harvey, Social Justice and The City, London: Edward Arnold 1973, p. 13. More recently, cf. Spaces of Hope, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000. The ineffable refers to a philosophical term with roots in Romanticism and the aesthetic of the sublime. Jacques Rancière argues that today’s understanding of the sublime in contemporary art derives from Jean-François Lyotard’s misreading of Kant in The Inhuman (1991), for whom the inability of the faculty of the imagination to picture or fathom what it has been shown gives way to the moral imperative to understand through the higher faculty of reason.34

Staley, Willy (14 December 2012). "The Color of War". New York Times Magazine . Retrieved 14 May 2014.

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