Aperture Gallery 547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor New York, New York (212) 505-5555
Join Aperture, The Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, and Jack Shainman Gallery for a special Armory-week artist-talk and book signing with INSTITUTE Artist Richard Mosse, upon the release of the new book Infra. Infra offers a stunning and radical rethinking of how to depict a complex and intractable conflict like the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation bordering on, and deeply intertwined, with Rwanda's difficult recent history. Mosse photographs both the rich topography, inscribed with traces of conflicting interests, as well as rebel groups with constantly shifting allegiances at war with the Congelese National Army, itself a patchwork of recently integrated warlords and their militias.
This is Mosse's first book, co-published by Aperture and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The series is shot on Aerochrome—a discontinued false-color reversal large-format infrared film (sometimes as large as 12-by-20 inches), originally produced for the U.S. military for the purposes of surveillance. As a result of the film's sensitivity to the color green in particular, the thatched-roof huts and young men posturing in makeshift uniforms, are set against an incongruous bed of violently pink foliage and fuchsia-tinged rolling hills. The work documents the rebel factions and the Congolese national army with startlingly surreal results.
These improbably colored images underline the growing tension between art, fiction, and traditional photojournalism as a way of portraying and communicating the impact of war. When decades worth of photojournalism has inured us to images of teenagers wielding rocket-propelled grenades, the complexity of a situation may best be communicated, as Mosse states, "through shocks to the imagination," using photography's unique ability "to make visible what cannot be perceived." The images may not offer a solution to the conflict depicted, but they do make it much more difficult to turn away. Infra initiates a dialogue with photography that begins as an intoxicating meditation on a broken genre, and ends as a haunting elegy for a vividly beautiful land touched by unspeakable tragedy.