Subvert conventions. See beyond the limits of ordinary representation. Observe the invisible.
Fondazione MAST is hosting the first retrospective of the artist Richard Mosse, curated by Urs Stahel. Unique in its visual impact, it up-ends the way in which we represent and perceive reality.
From the very start of his career the artist has explored the theme of visibility, and the way in which we are accustomed to seeing, thinking of and understanding reality.
Critical situations and places of conflict are photographed and filmed with the use of specific technologies, some originally developed for military purposes, which totally overturn photographic representation, creating images that are striking for their aesthetics but at the same time prompt ethical reflection: when beauty, described by the artist as “the sharpest tool for making people feel something”, is successfully used to recount suffering and tragedy, “an ethical problem arises in the minds of viewers”, who find themselves confused, struck and disorientated. The invisible becomes visible, in all its conflictual nature.
In the exhibition, the large-format photos and the videos create an immersive experience of rare intensity, surprising the viewer with powerful visual and sound stimuli. What emerges is the extraordinary topicality of Mosse’s work, which, by subverting photographic conventions through the use of technology, makes us observe the invisible: conflicts, migrations, climate change.
The show extends over three levels of Fondazione MAST: Gallery, Foyer and Level 0.
The Gallery houses some of the Early Works with photos taken in areas riven by conflict – the Middle East, the Balkans, the US-Mexico border - and Infra, the series that brought the artist to prominence. It consists of images taken during the brutal wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo using Kodak Aerochrome (infrared film now discontinued by Kodak but used in the past as a military reconnaissance technology).
In the Foyer is the Heat Maps series (and some related works) and the more recent Ultra and Tristes Tropiques series. Heat Maps presents images taken with a military-grade thermal imaging camera (capable of detecting temperature differences up to thirty kilometres away) along the migratory routes from the Middle East and Africa towards Europe. The photos in the Ultra series use a UV fluorescence technique to offer an unusual perspective on the beauty of nature in the Amazon rainforest. Tristes Tropiques shows the dramatic impact of deforestation in Brazil by means of images generated with sophisticated satellite photography technology (based on drones and multispectral imaging).
Level 0 houses the video installation The Enclave (shot with Aerochrome infrared film) and the video Incoming (filmed with a military thermal imaging camera), both the fruit of collaboration between the artist, DOP Trevor Tweeten and the composer Ben Frost.
The Enclave - preview
The photographer Richard Mosse (1980, Kilkenny, Ireland) lives and works in New York. After taking a BA in English Literature at King’s College London (2001), he went on to obtain an MRes in Cultural Studies (London Consortium, 2003), a postgraduate diploma in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths (University of London, 2005) and an MFA in Photography at the Yale School of Art (Yale University, New Haven, CT, 2008).
His early photographic works date to his university days. Focusing on the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the border between the United States and Mexico, they show his interest in the effects of conflict in zones of crisis.
He became considerably better known as a result of his work between 2010 and 2015 during the wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which resulted in the Infra series and the video installation The Enclave.
Between 2014 and 2018 he produced the series Heat Maps and the video Incoming, along the migratory routes from the Middle East and Africa towards Europe.
For the video installation The Enclave and the video projection Incoming, he collaborated with DOP Trevor Tweeten and the composer Ben Frost.
From 2018 to 2020 he worked in the Amazon rainforest, producing the series Ultra and the most recent series, Triste Tropiques. In the first he celebrates the fragile beauty of nature, while in the second he documents the dramatic impact of deforestation.