Collateral Damage?
February 11, 2012 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Richard Mosse's photography from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [Previously]

Warning: The third photo is disturbing
posted by gman (21 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Damn hipster t-shirts
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:48 AM on February 11, 2012


Yeah, I was in some Rwandan town on the border with the Congo, and tons of people were walking around with various Canadian hockey team jerseys.
posted by gman at 7:57 AM on February 11, 2012


What happened to that guy's face in the third photo?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:58 AM on February 11, 2012


Is the country actually that purple?
posted by Trurl at 8:02 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What happened to that guy's face in the third photo?!
I don't know, but my guess would be (seriously) machete.
posted by Flunkie at 8:02 AM on February 11, 2012


Question time: Is something wrong with my monitor? All the plant life was pink.
posted by Renoroc at 8:05 AM on February 11, 2012


Many of the photos are partially black and white. I assume he colorized the non-black and white portions however he wanted.
posted by Flunkie at 8:06 AM on February 11, 2012


I'm guessing it's infra red photography, based on the title of the series, "Infra".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:06 AM on February 11, 2012


Richard Mosse's pictures of Congo draw from a different palette of colours, literally. Using recently discontinued Kodak infrared film, his photographs turn the vegetation of the eastern Congo into jarring magenta, while the soldiers' uniforms go purple. It feels as if we have fallen down a rabbit hole, into a more surreal space. Congo always felt that way to me, as if the regular colour spectrum, the usual yardsticks we have, do not quite hack it.

This Aerochrome infrared film was developed by the US military in the 1940s to detect camouflage and to reveal part of the spectrum of light the human eye cannot see. But where this technology was invented to detect enemy positions in the underbrush, Mosse uses it to make us call into question pictures we thought we understood. These are the images we take for granted from Congo: the ruthless militia commander, the rape victim, an unwitting peasant. But in Mosse's pictures, Congo's photographic clich├ęs are represented in a counterpoint of electric pink, teal blue and lavender. By representing the conflict with an invisible spectrum of infrared light, he pushes us to see this tragedy in new ways.
posted by gman at 8:06 AM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Love this series. Thanks for posting, gman.
posted by interrupt at 8:10 AM on February 11, 2012


I'm not sure if the use of infrared photography adds anything from these pictures. I'm not sure it detracts, either. Mosse avoids the usual cliches by going psychedelic, but I'm not sure he rises above the level of gimmick.
posted by simen at 8:10 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if the use of infrared photography adds anything from these pictures. I'm not sure it detracts, either. Mosse avoids the usual cliches by going psychedelic, but I'm not sure he rises above the level of gimmick.

Well, we're talking about it. I don't think it's so much intended to be an artistic statement as a way to spark mass viewer interest (and considering that I initially spent ten minutes googling phrases like "african purple landscape," I personally think that what he's doing, works).
posted by lobbyist at 8:24 AM on February 11, 2012


Then again if this is your definition of a gimmick, then yes...
posted by lobbyist at 8:26 AM on February 11, 2012


I'm not sure if the use of infrared photography adds anything from these pictures.

For me, the juxtaposition of the almost dreamlike vegetation with the war torn places and people is a visualization of the tension between what the Congo is and what it could be. It's like a constant refrain of "Why? Why is the country so fucked up, when there's so much potential beauty there, why?!" What does it say about its people that have allowed this to happen. What does it say about us who watch, for a few minutes when our interest is piqued. Then we move on and don't give it another thought until the next news item or web link.

The person who cures cancer or solves some other complex societal problem could have been born in the Congo, but we'll never know, because they'll have so few chances to put their talent to use.

And that's just the one conflict on the planet. What else has humanity lost by letting people get mired in such violence?


Ya'll should check out his his other photo series and videos.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:27 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my country, we have a song about "purple mountain majesties" which probably comes from somebody screwing up the settings on their camera because, c'mon, purple mountains?
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:31 AM on February 11, 2012


That one with the kids in the T-shirts looks familiar. . .
posted by ianhattwick at 8:36 AM on February 11, 2012


dreamlike vegetation

This captures it for me. The red foliage is beautiful, like a science fiction movie set. But then you see the soldiers, and you know it's not fiction.
posted by Forktine at 9:17 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The New Yorker blog commentary.
posted by Brian B. at 9:36 AM on February 11, 2012


Photographers need to stop taking pictures that highlight the irony/tension between Africans' T-shirts and the bleak and terrifying situations they find themselves in. Not only is the idea overused, but these types of photographs make the subjects look foolish for not understanding the shirts' meaning. It's one (ethically complicated) thing to create a picture that makes art out of the suffering of others, it's another to create a picture that makes a joke out of the suffering of others.

C'mon people. "Lick that shit"?...On a kid's shirt? In 2012, after the public has been exposed years of pictures with T-shirts like this, that's truly in bad taste.
posted by shushufindi at 12:37 PM on February 11, 2012


I agree, the photographer should have made the kid take off the western shirt and put on a proper African one for the photo. For authenticity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:37 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


How to Write about Africa [prv] (There is presumably a variant covering photography, either written or to be.)
posted by dhartung at 2:57 AM on February 12, 2012


« Older Since its last* appearance in the blue, yWriter ha...  |  Author and Wall Street Journal... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments