Richard Mosse's Infrared and Incoming series*
Everything Merges with the Night, 2015, digital c-print © Richard Mosse. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Madonna and Child, 2012, digital c-print © Richard Mosse. Courtesy of the artist and
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Infrared by Richard Mosse
Richard Mosse (born 1980) photographs from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, using a discontinued military surveillance film, which
registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light. His work, capturing the beauty and tragedy in war and destruction, is part of many public collections internationally.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, with a surface area equivalent to that of Western Europe. It is home to an ancient civilization, land rich in natural resources, and a population consisting of more than 200 ethnic groups, speaking more than 200 languages.
The United Nations’ presence in the DRC (MONUSCO) was extended on December 20, 2021 to December 20, 2022. monusco.unmissions.org
Still from Incoming #96, 2016, digital c-print on metallic paper © Richard Mosse. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Moria in Snow I, Lesbos, Greece (detail), 2017, digital c-print on metallic paper © Richard Mosse. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Incoming by Richard Mosse
Snow fell on Moria in late January 2017, making life extremely difficult for the camp’s inhabitants, especially those living in tents. Three men died in their sleep during the week of 24th-30th January, and their deaths were linked to carbon monoxide poisoning from makeshift heaters. The Turkish coastline can be seen in the distance, where human traffickers corral groups of refugees before launching them covertly across the Aegean Sea for European shores.
Incoming charts mass migration and human displacement unfolding across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. War, persecution, climate change, and other factors have contributed to the largest migration of people since WWII. Incoming intercepts two of the busiest and most perilous routes. One from the east, from countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, crossing Turkey and arriving in the EU on the shores of Aegean Islands, then passing through the Balkan corridor on the route north. The other is from the south, from countries in the Sahel region–Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea–crossing the Sahara Desert for Libya, where they attempt to cross the Mediterranean hoping to reach Italy, often continuing north for countries such as France, Germany, the UK, and other wealthy nations.
“I used a military-grade camera designed for battlefield situational awareness and long-range border surveillance in an attempt to confront the viewer with the ways in which our governments represent–and therefore regard–the refugee. We wanted to use the technology against its intended purpose to create an immersive, humanist art form, allowing the viewer to meditate on the profoundly difficult and frequently tragic journeys of refugees. This idea of heat, imaging heat, which we hoped would speak sideways about human displacement resulting from climate change and global warming—also spoke more practically, even indexically, about the struggle of the refugee. Refugees literally leave the heat behind them, exposing themselves to the elements, the cold sea waves, the winter rain, and the snow. Homes are replaced with tents and shelters. People die of exposure. Light is visible heat. Light fades. Heat grows cold. People’s attention drifts. Media attention dwindles. Compassion is eventually exhausted. How do we find a way, as photographers and as storytellers, to continue to shed light on the refugee crisis and to keep the heat on these urgent narratives of human displacement?”
— Richard Mosse
Note: Moria was destroyed by fire in September 2020.
*Infrared and Incoming series by Richard Mosse are featured in Centerpoint Now ©2020, World Council of Peoples for the United Nations, UN 75th anniversary special edition "Are we there yet?" co-produced with Streaming Museum.