Safe From Harm, Richard Mosse, North Kivu, Eastern Congo, 2012 (Digital C-print, 71 x 89 cm, edition of 5) Photo: Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery
The Arts Council announced a celebratory tour of the Irish entry into the 55th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, in Dublin and Limerick early in 2014. The Irish entry into the Biennale is a national representation, supported by the Arts Council and the Culture Ireland division of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The Irish tour will be supported by the Arts Council as part of its commitment to promote the visual arts to Irish audiences.
The Enclave by Irish artist Richard Mosse received widespread international acclaim at Venice and a homecoming tour supported by the Arts Council showed at the RHA Dublin from 30 January until 12 March and in Limerick to mark the City of Culture events from 28 March until 5 May 2014.
Throughout 2012, Richard Mosse and his collaborators Trevor Tweeten and Ben Frost travelled in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, infiltrating armed rebel groups in a war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres and systematic sexual violence. The resulting installation, The Enclave, is the culmination of Mosse’s attempt to rethink war photography. It is a search for more adequate strategies to represent a forgotten African tragedy in which, according to the International Rescue Committee, at least 5.4 million people have died of war-related causes in eastern Congo since 1998.
A long-standing power vacuum in eastern Congo has resulted in a horrifying cycle of violence, a Hobbesian ‘state of war’, so brutal and complex that it resists communication, and goes unseen in the global consciousness. Mosse brings a discontinued military surveillance film to this situation, representing an intangible conflict with a medium that registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, and was originally designed for camouflage detection. The resulting imagery, shot on 16mm infrared film by cinematographer Trevor Tweeten, renders the jungle war zone in a disorienting psychedelic palette. Ben Frost’s ambient audio composition, comprised entirely of recordings gathered in the field in eastern DRC, hovers bleakly over the unfolding tragedy.
Ireland at Venice
Since 1950 when Ireland first participated in La Biennale di Venezia with artists Norah McGuinness and Nano Reid, the Biennale has been a vital platform for Irish artists, curators and commissioners to gain international profile and to generate opportunities for them to present their work outside of Ireland.
Ireland’s participation at the Venice Biennale is an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council. The exhibition was a key opportunity for the international art community to engage with Irish contemporary art practice and for Irish artists to showcase their work on an international stage.
Recent Irish artists who have represented Ireland at Venice include Corban Walker (2011, Commissioner Emily-Jane Kirwan, Curator Eamonn Maxwell), Sarah Browne and Gareth Kennedy (2009, Commissioner/ Curator Caoimhin Corrigan), Gerard Byrne (2007, Commissioner/Curator Mike Fitzpatrick), and Stephen Brandes, Mark Garry, Ronan McCrea, Sarah Pierce, Isabel Nolan and Walker and Walker (2005, Commissioner/Curator Sarah Glennie).