Author(s): Mosse Richard
"Infra", Richard Mosse's first book, offers a radical rethinking of how to depict a conflict as complex and intractable as that of the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mosse photographs both the rich topography, inscribed with the traces of conflicting interests, as well as rebel groups of constantly shifting allegiances at war with the Congolese national army (itself a patchwork of recently integrated warlords and their militias). For centuries, the Congo has repeatedly compelled and defied the Western imagination. Mosse brings to this subject the use of a discontinued aerial surveillance film, a type of color infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome. The film, originally developed for military reconnaissance, registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson, and hot pink. The results offer a fevered inflation of the traditional reportage document, underlining the growing tension between art, fiction, and photojournalism. Mosses work highlights the ineffable nature of current events in today's Congo. "Infra" initiates a dialogue with photography that begins as an intoxicating meditation on a broken genre, but ends as a haunting elegy for a vividly beautiful land touched by unspeakable tragedy.
He works with a wooden large-format camera and Kodak Aerochrome - an infared film used for military aerial surveillance and Jimi Hendrix album covers before it was taken off the market two years ago - to render the Congo in a lurid hot pink that recalls the chromatic fashions of its urban sapeur subculture. Infra, his first book, doesn't look like a Reuters slide show so much as an arresting mash-up of fashion photography, mililtary surveillance stills, and psychedelic dream imagery. Mosse breaks with the cliches of classical photojournalism, and allows his images to take on an unreality that befits their subjects.--Jessica Loudis"Bookforum" (04/01/2012)