Ireland’s representation at the 55th Venice Art Biennale was launched on Thursday 30 May in Venice. La Biennale di Venezia has long been recognised as the most important visual arts showcase in the world. Ireland’s participation at the Venice Biennale is an initiative of the Culture Ireland division of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in partnership with the Arts Council.
Ireland is represented in Venice, this year by the artist, Richard Mosse, presented by Commissioner / Curator Anna O’Sullivan, Director of the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny. Richard represents Ireland with The Enclave, a major new multi-media installation.
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.
The Enclave immerses the viewer in a challenging and sinister world, exploring aesthetics in a situation of profound human suffering. At the heart of the project, as Mosse states, 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."
Ireland's Ambassador to Italy, Patrick Hennessy officiated at Ireland's opening which was be attended by many key international curators and artists, alongside the Arts Council's Chairman, Pat Moylan and Director, Orlaith McBride.
Mosse joins an illustrious list of Irish artists who have presented work at the Venice Biennale since 1950, the year Norah McGuinness and Nano Reid exhibited. Irish artists exhibiting at Venice over the years have attracted significant interest and subsequent opportunities to present their work at a range of prestigious international exhibitions. There is developing international interest in the work of Mosse who is well positioned to benefit from the international platform the Biennale offers.
The exhibition will be open to the public from June 1st until November 24th.