Richard Mosse is an Irish conceptual documentary photographer. He is best known for his photographs of the war in the Eastern Congo using colour infrared film intended to create a new perspective on conflicts.
Mosse situates his practice between documentary journalism and contemporary art practice, explaining that he seeks to represent the unrepresentable in order to “help us begin to describe, and thereby account for, what exists at the limits of human articulation.”
The current American-Iraqi war and the ongoing rebel conflict in the Eastern Congo are among the conflicts Mosse has recorded. He is best known for “Infra” (2010-11), a series of luridly coloured, large-scale photographs of the fighters, inhabitants, and landscapes of the Eastern Congo. By shooting with Kodak Aerochrome, an infrared surveillance film that renders greens into acid pinks and reds, Mosse offers a searing, psychedelic vision of the warscape and those who suffer from within it.
Shot on discontinued military surveillance film, the resulting imagery registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, and renders the jungle warzone in disorienting psychedelic hues. At the project’s heart are the points of failure of documentary photography, and its inability to adequately communicate this complex and horrific cycle of violence.
Critic Sean O’Hagan, writing in The Guardian, said “His images from there often seem to skirt the real and the fictional, simply though [sic] their heightened and unreal colours. He has made the familiar seem strange and the real seem heightened to the point of absurdity. This is war reportage – but not as we know it.”