Expanded Documentary

Photographer Richard Mosse (b. 1980) is known for his documentation of the civil war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Using Kodak Aerochrome film, Infra (2010-2014) visualises the conflict like never before. The series launched a new kind of photojournalism – presenting cityscapes as otherworldly, silvery ghosts, saturated by pink tones. Now, Photo Elysée shows his moving-image work.

Broken Specter plunges into the deforestation of the Amazon. It’s a piece that reminds viewers that the rainforest is rapidly approaching a point of no return. Shot over three years, aerial views, historic footage and indigenous Yanomami interviews collage together, as Mosse plays with different scales and perspectives. In one sequence, the forest floor glows a dystopian ultraviolet, illuminated by tufts of neon green and yellow bracken. In another, a crystal blue river snakes through a rosy thicket of trees.

These moments are contrasted with episodes of occupation and destruction, this time using black and white film. They reveal the full extent of human extraction in the region – from logging yards to cattle enclosures as well as the systematic burning of land. What emerges is a complex and multitextured narrative, steered by scenes that offer testimony to an environment in a state of crisis. Mosse explains: “I don’t think many people fully understand the vast scale of the situation on the ground. I do not want the piece to tell you what to think or what to do. I want the viewer to sit with that eco-anxiety, to feel the ambiguity of the situation, but, more importantly, to understand what is unfolding.”

Photo Elysée, Richard Mosse: Broken Specter | Until 25 February


Words: Chloe Elliott

Image Credits:

  1. Richard Mosse, Stills from Broken Spectre, Roraima, Multispectral Gis Aerial © Richard Mosse.