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A War Zone Through the Eyes of Infrared Film

The stark contrast - a surreal red landscape of ethereal beauty serving as the backdrop for a war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres and systematic sexual violence. Throughout 2012, Richard Mosse and his collaborators Trevor Tweeten and Ben Frost traveled through the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, infiltrating armed rebel groups and filming what they see. The resulting work is titled The Enclave, a new multi-media installation at the 55th International Art Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia (Venice, Italy) from June through November, 2013.

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.

Mosse uses a discontinued military surveillance film in the art installation, 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 of pink and red hues. 

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