Richard Mosse sees red in Congo

Why the photographer had to travel to the war-torn landscape twice to tell its story
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Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

1 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

2 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

3 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

4 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

5 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

6 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

7 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

8 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

9 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

10 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

11 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

12 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo

13 / 13 Richard Mosse, Infra (2010), Democratic Republic of Congo


We're used to seeing landscape photographs taken with black and white infra-red film where the trees and grass are given an eerie silver tone and day turns into night. But Irish photographer Richard Mosse's infra-red images of the Democratic Republic of Congo turn the grass not into white, but crimson.

Using a discontinued type of coloured infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome, originally used by military surveillance to detect camouflage, Mosse travelled to eastern Congo to photograph rebel groups fighting in the Congolese jungle for his series Infra, on show at Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, until December 23. The film registers the infrared spectrum of light invisible to the naked eye and renders the green landscape in bright hues of pink, crimson and lavender.

Mosse actually made his Congo trip twice. "My original two-month jaunt was made in vain, evaporating into a sea of double-exposed 8x10 inch landscapes," he says. "This single mistake cost me a 100 precious sheets of this discontinued infrared film stock. I knew I’d made a grievous error after returning across front lines from rebel territory only to discover that both boxes of film seemed to be mislabelled. 'This one says that it’s exposed but I distinctly remember it being unexposed. And this one says that it’s unexposed, but I feel that’s not the case. Well,' I realised, 'I have a 50 percent chance of it working out.' I lost.

Richard Mosse, <em> Débris</em> (2010)Richard Mosse, Débris (2010)

"After a week of tremendous self-loathing and long walks on the gray streets of Manhattan, I decided that I must simply return to Congo and reshoot everything. As Sam Beckett once said, 'Try again, fail again, fail better.'"

Click through the gallery above to see the images Mosse produced when he went back to the Republic of Congo for a second time.


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