Richard Mosse’s Surreal Depiction Of Congolese Violence

Richard Mosse’s otherworldly landscapes of the Democratic Republic of Congo challenge the aesthetic codes and dark symbolism often associated with armed conflicts. The overwhelming, pink serenity emanating from his photographs originates from the use of an infrared film designed during WW2 for investigation purposes. Reflecting off the plants’ chlorophyll, the film renders green leaf pigments as pink hues, making the invisible enemies visible. By using this military defence strategy in his visualisation of the Eastern Congo, Mosse sheds light on a conflict forsaken by the western world, despite its multimillion casualties.

Through this simple colour substitution, Mosse injects a hallucinogenic visual identity into his records of destruction, displacement, and death. The result is more like a tragic yet beautiful scene, where the figures are humanised rather than mechanised. Through the humanisation of these figures the viewer is immersed in a bewildered reflection somewhere between ethereal and lethal perceptions of reality.

Born in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1980, Mosse represented his homeland at the 2013 Venice Biennale, where he showed The Enclave (2012-2013)—a six-channel video installation documenting the Congolese panorama and its people. In 2014, he was awarded the Deutsche Börse photography Prize for this hauntingly mesmerising exhibition.

Safe from Harm
Digital C Print
Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery

Marina Iordan

Marina Iordan is a Dubai based art professional, specialising in art from the Middle East and Arab world.