The Arts Council and artist Richard Mosse today commenced the install of a celebratory Irish tour of Mosse’s The Enclave, which was the Irish entry into the 55th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale. The homecoming exhibition will show in Dublin’s Royal Hibernian Academy from January 30th before moving to Limerick as part of Limerick City of Culture 2014 from March 28th.
Mosse, a native of Kilkenny, is widely regarded as one of the leading Irish artists of his generation, and was recently named one of Foreign Policy Magazine's leading global thinkers of 2013 alongside Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and the entrepreneur Elon Musk.
The Enclave received widespread international acclaim at Venice, where it was Ireland’s national representation, supported by the Arts Council and the Culture Ireland division of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The Irish tour is supported by the Arts Council as part of its commitment to promote the visual arts to Irish audiences. The Commissioner and Curator is Anna O’Sullivan, Director of the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland.
Ms Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council, said the two-stage tour of The Enclave will give Irish people a reason to be proud. "These exhibitions will show Irish people the strength, passion and impact of Irish visual artists. The show is full of bravery, innovation and power. The Arts Council sees this as an important opportunity for Irish people to experience the high standard of Irish art being produced."
Throughout 2012, Richard Mosse and his collaborators Trevor Tweeten and Ben Frost travelled in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, spending time with 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 radically war photography. It is a search for more adequate strategies to represent a forgotten African tragedy in which 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, which Mosse describes as "a Hobbesian ‘state of war’, so brutal and complex that it resists communication, and goes unseen in the global consciousness."
Mosse brought a discontinued military surveillance film into 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 disorienting psychedelic hues of vivid magenta, lavender, cobalt, and puce. Ben Frost’s ambient audio composition, comprised entirely of organic Congolese field recordings, hovers bleakly over the unfolding tragedy.
"I am beginning to perceive this vicious loop," Mosse wrote from Goma, "of subject and object. The camera provokes an involuntary unraveling, a mutual hijack of authorship and autonomy."
Neither scripted nor directed, Congolese rebels return the camera’s predatory gaze in a distinctly confrontational and accusatory manner. The lens seems to mesmerise and provoke those it encounters in The Enclave, including rebels fighting under the command of those sought for trial by the International Criminal Court. "This precarious face-off reveals inherent ambiguities of masculinity, defiance, vulnerability, and indictment," according to Mosse.
"The Enclave immerses the viewer in a challenging and sinister world, posing aesthetic questions in a situation of profound human suffering." At the heart of the project is an attempt to bring "two counter-worlds into collision: art’s potential to represent narratives so painful that they exist beyond language, and photography’s capacity to document specific tragedies and communicate them to the world."
Supported by the Arts Council, The Enclave will show at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin from 30th January - 12th March and at Ormston House and 6a Rutland Street, Limerick from 28th March to 5th May, as part of the celebration of Limerick City of Culture 2014.