A beautifully calm and vast pink landscape carries an equally large history. Though it appears to be a land of fairy tales, it is, in fact, the tormented territory of the Congo. Photographer Richard Mosse ventured to the eastern parts of the African country with a new artistic perspective on the jungle war zone in his series entitled Infra. Mosse employed a discontinued military surveillance technology called Kodak Aerochrome, which is a type of film with infrared capabilities. Essentially, the film transforms the green that is typically found in countryside terrain to variations of red, crimson, lavender, and hot pink.
Mosse is no stranger to countries amidst turmoil and destruction, being that he is often on the scene to capture ruins and cities devastated by earthquakes. However, this journey was no less tumultuous or without its struggles. There was the obstacle of working with a fairly unknown technology that picked up a spectrum of infrared light that is invisible to the naked human eye and then there were the heartbreaking realities of the land. The conflict of beautifying or romanticizing a land amidst war arises in Mosse's series. The pink overtones add an artistic flair that is uncommon in the realistic, newsy subject matter that the photographer covers.
In an interview with Aperture Magazine, Mosse says, "Photographic realism has become so inscribed upon twentieth-century depictions of war that we often forget that there were other forms before it: the panorama, the history painting, even 3-D spectroscopic views of the battlefield. In the past, this is how the public understood their wars—as distant sweeping landscapes of enormous scale and detail...But they were soon forgotten with small-format technologies, and with changes in the way that wars were fought during the twentieth century. Warfare is constantly evolving; it has recently become abstracted, asymmetric, simulated. We are so removed from the experience of war in the West that I feel the genre may shift once more."
Ultimately, Mosse has produced a beautifully complex series of photographs. Infra is currently on display at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York until Decemebr 23, 2011.
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