29 January 2014: Exhibition Opening For Richard Mosse's The Enclave

The Arts Council is pleased to announce that there will be a celebratory tour of the Irish entry into the 55th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, in Dublin and Limerick. 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 is 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 will show at the RHA Dublin from 30th January until 12th March and in Limerick to mark the City of Culture events from 28th March to 5th May. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD, opened the exhibition in the RHA on January 29th.

Minister Deenihan said: "This exhibition provides an opportunity to reflect on the very considerable contribution made to the national art scene, and indeed to Ireland’s international reputation in the art world, by Richard Mosse. A young artist entering the prime of his career, he is an example of what Ireland's artistic community can achieve on a world stage. I applaud the Arts Council for bringing this challenging, world-class visual arts installation home for an Irish tour."

Aibhlín McCrann, Deputy Chairman of the Arts Council, said the stunning exhibition demonstrates the international impact of the Irish visual arts. "The Arts Council is delighted to be able to support this major public outreach initiative. I am thrilled that the Arts Council can give the Irish public the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate this great work which has received exceptional international attention."

Richard Mosse represented Ireland with The Enclave, a major new multi-media installation at the 55th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. The Commissioner and Curator is Anna O’Sullivan, Director of the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland. Ireland at Venice was an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaion.

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 radically rethink 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."

The Arts Council’s Irish tour of The Enclave is supported by Limerick City of Culture, Colortrend and The Irish Times.

Desert Rose, (oil on board) - Colin Middleton, 1975, Arts Council Virtual Gallery.
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Desert Rose, (oil on board) - Colin Middleton, 1975, Arts Council Virtual Gallery.

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