Project 12: Re-thinking photojournalism 2: ‘post-photojournalism’

Exercise 3.4

“Beauty is one of the main lines to make people feel something.  It’s the sharpest tool in the box.” — Richard Mosse (Frieze, no date)

Richard Mosse’s Infra and Enclave projects, are beautiful examples of post-photojournalism.  Moss uses colour infrared film in order to photograph/video the people and the landscape of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The resulting images are just stunning, with exotic pink landscapes, populated by rebel soldiers.

In photographing the eastern Congo, Richard Moss wanted to shed light on a conflict in which 5.4 million people have died since 1998.  Yet, this is a conflict that we, in the UK, hear very little about.  In Mosse’s own words,

“Its war seems essentially intangible.  It is a protracted, complex and convoluted conflict, fought by rebels with constantly switching allegiance.  These narratives, though brutal and tragic, are not tales that are easily told.  I was pursuing something essentially ineffable, something so trenchantly real that it verges on the abstract, at the very limits of description.  I needed to find an appropriate form to better describe this sinister resonance.”  (Shore, 2014)

So, in trying to portray an unseen/forgotten conflict, Mosse opted for a unique technical approach, by using a type of film – Kodac Aerochrome, which was originally developed for military reconnaissance and works by registering the light reflected by living chlorophyll (Jack Shainman Gallery, 2016) – that could render the invisible (infrared light) visible.  He describes it as something of a metaphoric leap (in Frieze, no date), but it is nevertheless, a very clever concept.

Approaches such as this one, employed by Richard Mosse, are examples of how photojournalism is currently evolving.  With the rise of citizen journalism, traditional photojournalists are having to adapt.  As Allan (2013) describes,

“necessity is dictating a rethinking of roles, which for some photojournalists has led to a decentring of ‘hard’ or ‘spot’ news reportage in favour of interpretive modes consistent with long-form photo essays, self-published books, gallery exhibitions or multimedia websites to tell their stories.”

There are many examples of this evolution, such as Tim Hetherington’s Sleeping Soldiers and Cristina De Middel’s series The Afronauts.  Personally, I find these examples of “post-photojournalism” rather compelling, and I think, that they probably make me consider a subject more thoroughly than a traditional approach would.

References

Allan, S. (2013) Blurring boundaries: Professional and citizen photojournalism in a digital age.  In: Lister, M. (Ed.) (2013) The Photographic Image in Digital Culture (2nd edition). Routledge: Abingdon.

Frieze (no date) Richard Mosse: The Impossible Image [online]. Available at: https://vimeo.com/67115692. Accessed on 27/11/2016.

Jack Shainman Gallery (2016) Richard Mosse [online]. Available at: http://www.jackshainman.com/artists/richard-mosse/. Accessed on 27/11/2016.

Shore, R. (2014) Post-Photography. The Artist with a Camera. Lawrence King Publishing Ltd.: London. pp. 246-251.

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