Richard Mosse’s The Enclave (2013) is an immersive 40-minute, six-screen video, photography, and sound installation made over several years in and around Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Mosse’s work is featured in the most recent issue of Cultural Politics (volume 11, issue 2), and The Enclave is being exhibited at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University until January 10, 2016.
From the Nasher Museum exhibition guide:
Central to Mosse’s work is the idea that the ubiquity of wartime images has desensitized us to the atrocities of war. Disturbing footage from conflict regions around the world appears on our screens with such regularity that it is often disregarded as simply more visual clutter. Mosse spent the last several years photographing the war-ravaged land and people of Central Africa using a discontinued infrared film developed by the military to detect camouflaged targets. By registering an invisible spectrum of light, this film transforms the color green into a brilliant pink, rendering the landscape in a surreal palette. Armed with his camera, Mosse and his collaborators, cinematographer Trevor Tweeten and composer Ben Frost, embedded themselves into armed Congolese rebel groups. The resulting work, The Enclave, is a magenta-suffused, seductive, morbid, and deeply moving installation depicting stories from this troubled region.
In “Richard Mosse’s Enclave: Dream of the Celt,” from Cultural Politics, author Deborah Frizzell argues that the visual and aural strategies Mosse employs, by running counter to those programmed within the image supply chain dominated by mass-produced culture, set in motion jarring ambiguities that an uneasy audience must struggle with or at least decode. Mosse’s Enclave became a locus for debates about contemporary aesthetic strategies, especially within photography, and the ethics of deploying the shock of the sublime to elicit both empathy and questioning, exposing the viewer/participant to the tensions of attraction and aversion that oscillate within the sublime. His installations pose questions about how we read meaning in the texts and images that structure our experience and our understanding of cultural representation. Thus Mosse’s work highlights the limitations of photojournalism and photography by mixing the contingent and abstract, the symbolic and political, evoking the precariousness of life as experienced in the continuing cycles of war, armed conflicts, and systematic tactics of violence that mark our era.