In the cross field between documentary and art, Richard Mosse challenges our perspective on conflict and disaster in the world’s hotspots. In his latest video installation Incoming, the prize-winning artist, who aroused public attention with The Enclave, focuses on the flow of refugees towards Europe.
How de we in the Western world look at the disasters and conflicts of our time? This is one of the questions on which a lot of works by the Irish artist and photographer, Richard Mosse, are based. Through impressive video installations and large-format photographs, he brings into focus places and conflicts only fleetingly covered by the ever-changing news flow.
Military Camera Technology
In his large video installation, Incoming, Richard Mosse documents the journey of refugees and migrants towards and in Europe using complex thermal camera technology. The camera enables him to take pictures at extreme distances and include events otherwise inaccessible to us. The camera is developed for military purposes and is used in connection with border control, searches and surveillance, but can also be used in military operations.
Due to the thermal technology, the black-white pictures seem almost luminescent, and the identity and skin color of the documented individuals are blurred – despite the sharpness of the pictures. This gives the persons depicted an almost ghostlike appearance, as the pictures show them crossing dangerous waters, sleeping in temporary refugee camps and fighting to survive.
Richard Mosse states about his work: “The camera is intrusive of individual privacy, yet the imagery that this technology produces is so dehumanized – the persona literally glows – that the medium anonymizes the subject in ways that are both insidious and humane.”
Between Photo Documentary and Contemporary Art
Richard Mosse is known for his experimental work, which challenges the relation between photo documentary and contemporary art. He created the exhibition Incoming together with musician, Ben Frost, and photographer, Trevor Tweeten. It consists of a 53 minute film shown on a wall 16 meters long and chosen photographs from the series The Castle, some of which are more than three meters wide.
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