Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Richard Mosse's alluring distress: "The Enclave" at Jack Shainman Gallery

The Enclave

Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea has for years been showing the work of Irish photographer and cinematographer Richard Mosse. But after last summer the task of presenting the work of the New York based artist in the context of a commercial gallery became somehow more complicated. Representing Ireland in its national pavilion at the 55th Venice Biannale, Moose created a shocking and alluring 6 channel video installation. So the task at hand for his New York gallerist was to transfer the celebrated artwork from the site of a non profit mega-exhibition into the 20th street Shainman location.
As a result, the show in Chelsea was divided in two sections -both of them aesthetically marvelous. In the first part the visitor encounters large scale photographic prints of the landscapes that Mosse was documenting during his expedition in the jungles of Congo, while in the second part, viewers witnessed the incredible experience that the Enclave was for the visitors of the Biennale.
Entering the realm of research practices, Moose and his artistic entourage approached the documentation of a horrific conflict through the lens of art, creating a powerful argument: By employing unconventional videography techniques, the artist visually transforms the terrain, and as his manipulated imagery blends with an intense soundtrack, it manages to facilitate a discourse about how the so called first world regards the tragedy of an African civil war. The artist uses an outdated military film that was used for detecting camouflaged enemy soldiers, and as a result he creates an aesthetically powerful rendition of documenting a series of grotesque events and everyday life during the war. By masterfully editing the footage within his prism-like space, Mosse creates a fractured narrative that escalates to a point of emotional distress. Beauty and horror dance hand in hand in this experience, while we witness a story that seems real and unreal, happening in a place that even if we know that exists, seems fictional. The Enclave is a documentation of another place, a parallel reality that is far away from the western modern model of life of safety and security. It is a perfect metaphor regarding our approach towards the situation that the human experience is in the struggling continent.


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