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Aperture/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Hardcover, 9 x 10.25 in. / 136 pgs / 75 color.

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ISBN 9781597112024 TRADE
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Greensboro, NC
Weatherspoon Art Museum, 01/12-03/12


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Infra: Photographs by Richard Mosse

Text by Adam Hochschild.

Infra: Photographs by Richard MosseInfra, Richard Mosse’s first book, offers a radical rethinking of how to depict a conflict as complex and intractable as that of the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mosse photographs both the rich topography, inscribed with the traces of conflicting interests, as well as rebel groups of constantly shifting allegiances at war with the Congolese national army (itself a patchwork of recently integrated warlords and their militias). For centuries, the Congo has repeatedly compelled and defied the western imagination. Mosse brings to this subject the use of a discontinued aerial surveillance film, a type of color infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome. The film, originally developed for military reconnaissance, registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson and hot pink. The results offer a fevered inflation of the traditional reportage document, underlining the growing tension between art, fiction and photojournalism. Mosse’s work highlights the ineffable nature of current events in today’s Congo. Infra initiates a dialogue with photography that begins as an intoxicating meditation on a broken genre, but ends as a haunting elegy for a vividly beautiful land touched by unspeakable tragedy.
Following studies at the London Consortium and Goldsmiths College in London, Richard Mosse (born 1980) graduated from the Yale School of Art. He was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in 2008 and the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011. His work has been featured on the pages of Aperture, Artforum, Art in America, Frieze and Modern Painters.

Featured image, reproduced from Infra: Photographs by Richard Mosse, is "Men of Good Fortune," 2010.



Jessica Loudis

He works with a wooden large-format camera and Kodak Aerochrome - an infared film used for military aerial surveillance and Jimi Hendrix album covers before it was taken off the market two years ago - to render the Congo in a lurid hot pink that recalls the chromatic fashions of its urban sapeur subculture.
Infra, his first book, doesn't look like a Reuters slide show so much as an arresting mash-up of fashion photography, mililtary surveillance stills, and psychedelic dream imagery.
Mosse breaks with the cliches of classical photojournalism, and allows his images to take on an unreality that befits their subjects.

The New York Times

Dana Jennings

“Infra” seeks to shed light on the intractable war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to present narratives that, Mr. Mosse writes, “urgently need telling but cannot be easily described.” In a brilliant tactic, Mr. Mosse shot these photos using Kodak Aerochrome, a discontinued military aerial-surveillance film. The infrared film is extra sensitive to green and translates the Congolese landscape into torrid pinks, margarita blues and coral-reef fuchsias. Against this surreal backdrop we see the war more clearly: the child soldiers, the maimed, the dead.

American Photo

Using Kodak Aerochrome - a doscontinued color infrared film originally intended for military reconnaissance - Mosse imagines the Democratic Republic of Congo as a hot pink, crimson, and lavender-hued landscape wrought by decades of a complex ongoing war, which he terms "essentially intantgible." In his hands the nation's topography, innocent bystanders and gun-slinging rebels are made more tangible, in a way that both intensifies and softens the reality of war.

Infra: Photographs by Richard Mosse

"The subject of my work in Congo is the conflict’s intangibility, the irruption of the real beneath the generic conventions - it is a problem of representation. The word ‘infra’ means below, what is beneath. A dialogue about form and representation is one of the work’s objectives, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing if people get hung up on the way Congo has been depicted, rather than what is being depicted. That’s the point, really."
-Richard Mosse, in conversation with Jorg Coleberg, excerpted from Infra.