Richard Mosse: Infra
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See W.J.T Mitchell, The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1992 and objections: Lev Manovich, ‘The Paradoxes of Digital Photography,’ Photography After Photography , Hubertus v. Amelunxen, Stefan Iglhaut, Florian, Rötzer (eds), G+B Arts, 1996, pp. 57-65. For simulacrum, cf. Gilles Deleuze, ‘The Simulacrum and Ancient Philosophy’ in T he Logic of Sense, Mark Lester trans., London and New York: Continuum, 2004, pp. 291-320. There is great power in repurposing a tool associated with destruction for creation, something that Irish artist Richard Mosse is well versed in. Often working with technologies originally classified as weapons, he covers challenging topics of conflict, immigration and climate change. 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.
Vincent, Alice (12 May 2014). "Richard Mosse wins Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 13 May 2014.You can see people have been chopped off,” he says gesturing to a man’s head and torso, centimeters away from his legs. “I left them like that; I could’ve taken them out and faked it, but I really like the way it points to [the image’s] construction and reveals its unraveling.” The final photographs are printed on a shimmering metallic digital c-paper. Aperture Foundation and Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting are publishing a monograph of Richard Mosse’s Infra, with an introduction by Adam Hochschild, which will be available to view at the gallery for the duration of the exhibition. Discomfort has long sat at the centre of Mosse’s work, whether aestheticising the conflict in the DRC or anonymising migrants and refugees in his subsequent works, Incoming and Heat Maps, with the use of a thermal imaging camera.
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.34Infra is framed by a reading of Conrad which has more affinity with Apocalypse Now as metaphor of unknowable evil than with Conrad’s subtle denunciation in what passes off as fiction, but is rooted in experience: his Congo Diary. Heart of Darkness is the literary trace of a real journey into the Congo of nineteenth-century imperialism. If Conrad constantly shifts the viewpoint, he does so by problematizing the narrative with ‘the posture of uncertainty and doubt’.32 But it is a posture which suggests to his readers, through epistemological doubting, unpalatable interpretations of the colonial world offering hints and clues to aid the understanding of a controversial contradiction: the eloquent heights of Victorian moralism glossing over unspeakable depths of exploitation. Conrad’s resistance to European imperialism takes the form of Marlow’s oblique narrative, mediating between author, the imaginative faculty, and the real. But the imagination has an ethical purpose: to provoke thought and do so by expressing epistemological doubts about mainstream views. In a Victorian context, the objective state of affairs of British and Belgian colonial greed can only be signalled by Conrad, through delayed decoding.33 It’s over-photographed,” Mosse admits, “so over-photographed that people stop seeing it on some level.” He recalls being in a swarm of some 60 photographers during his latest trip to Lesbos, including the likes of famed war photographer James Nachtwey. But despite this, Mosse has been able to add to the narrative, in a way people haven’t yet seen. Through technology, he has also gained access that others have been denied. A. Hussein, Edward Said. Criticism and Society, London and New York: Verso, 2002. 34. Jacques Rancière, ‘Lyotard and the Aesthetics of the Sublime: a Counter-reading of Kant’, in Aes thetics and Its Discontents, Cambridge and Malden MA: Polity, 2009, p. 88-105.
The choice to exhibit Norfolk’s evocative archive photographs in conjunction with the main exhibition gives a now and then experience, acting as a reminder of Open Eye’s importance as both a venue within the city and the only gallery in the North West dedicated to photography. These two carefully selected exhibitions show the curators passion to deliver an exhibition programme that champions photography as an art form and explores the possibilities of the media. Geoff Manaugh, ‘Leviathan: An interview with Richard Mosse’, BLDG BLOG, 21 December 2009,