Richard Mosse: The Enclave

Richard Mosse, from The Enclave.
Richard Mosse, from The Enclave.

NGV International | 10 October 2015 to February 2016 | Free Entry

The culmination of a three-year expedition through the conflicted and war-torn landscape of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Richard Mosse’s The Enclave is an immersive, maze-like film installation depicting the realities of war in shocking but often beautiful detail.

The Enclave, which comprises six large-scale projections on suspended screens, was shot on 16 mm colour infra-red film, a discontinued stock developed by the military as a reconnaissance tool.

Shot by Mosse, 2014 winner of the Deutsche Börse prize for photography, the film depicts the lush regions of North and South Kivu in Eastern Congo. The imagery is hallucinatory and dreamlike; an uncanny experience where everything is presented in accurate documentary detail, and yet the usual greens of jungle and forest are replaced by shimmering violet.

‘This astonishing work by Richard Mosse pierces through the usual lens of conflict, presenting a richer perspective of the tragedy that has claimed so many lives. Mosse’s work is simultaneously disturbing and thought-provoking, highlighting the preciousness of human life along with the sheer beauty of the Congo,’ said Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV.

Richard Mosse, the Enclave Exhibition.
Richard Mosse, the Enclave Exhibition.

Irish artist Richard Mosse was partly inspired by Joseph Conrad’s modernist literary masterpiece Heart of Darkness (1899), a novel set in a war-torn 1890s Congo. Drawn to the disconnect between Conrad’s fictionalised account of the Congo and the stark reality of the war crimes the author documented as a humanitarian, Mosse was intrigued by a crisis of representation that artists, photojournalists and filmmakers face when they attempt to depict unspeakable brutalities and destruction caused by war.

Mosse’s work thus depicts a complicated and strife-ridden modern-day Congo, reflecting both the complexity of the country and the way in which it is unevenly portrayed in various media. The work uses a strategy of beauty and transfixion to combat the invisibility of a conflict that has claimed so many lives.

The sensory distortion created by The Enclave is further intensified by an immersive and enveloping soundscape designed by Australian-born, Iceland-based musician and sound artist Ben Frost, who travelled with Mosse to the Congo to gather field recordings. He then mixed these sounds with electronics to create a score that, like the visuals, confuses the real and the embellished.

Trevor Tweeten’s cinematography positions viewers close to rebels and villagers, taking them down mud roads and rocky paths, whilst the multiple screens allows shifting landscapes to be presented alongside muted portraiture.

Richard Mosse: The Enclave will be on display at NGV International from 10 October 2015 to February 2016. Open daily, 10am–5pm. Free entry.

The exhibition Richard Mosse: The Enclave is supported by Culture Ireland.

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