Richard mosse

Professional Photography - - Contents -

The Ir­ish pho­to­jour­nal­ist on mak­ing the ‘in­vis­i­ble’ Congo con­flict vis­i­ble

“I think I need to take six months off af­ter this, I’m burnt out,” Richard Mosse tells me. For the past cou­ple of years, he’s been con­stantly on the move. “I’d just like to stay in one place – I’m like one of those pin­balls. I’d love to get a dog.” Mosse lives in New York but he’s at Ber­lin air­port the first time we speak. We’re cut short as his plane is board­ing and when we catch up again, a few days later, he’s at the Bar­bi­can in Lon­don, where his im­mer­sive, multi-screen video in­stal­la­tion, In­com­ing, has just opened at the Curve gallery.

In­com­ing will be shown to­gether with Heat Maps, a series of stills from the same project, which have been nom­i­nated for the Prix Pictet. Like In­fra and The En­clave (the un­for­get­table, hot pink-hued pho­to­graphic im­ages and film that saw him rep­re­sent Ire­land in the Venice Bi­en­nale in 2013, win the Deutsche Börse prize in 2014, and score a Mag­num nom­i­na­tion in 2015), Mosse’s lat­est project again takes a rare tech­nol­ogy – this time a heat-sen­si­tive, mil­i­tary-grade cam­era – and ap­plies it to a sub­ject in a way that rad­i­cally shakes up our vis­ual vo­cab­u­lary. “We all have our fixed opin­ion about im­mi­gra­tion,” Mosse says. “Some of us, the lib­er­als, will want to wel­come the refugees, will want there to be no borders. Oth­ers will say, my par­ents built this na­tion, my job’s been stolen by some­one who will work for less, why can’t we reg­u­late this?

I was al­ways into pho­tog­ra­phy but my par­ents are both artists and they told me not to go into art be­cause there’s no sta­bil­ity in it and you turn into a rav­ing lu­natic. They’re prob­a­bly right.

“To create an art­work about that is very dif­fer­ent to cre­at­ing one about Congo. That comes across as a mythic con­flict that doesn’t re­ally touch us – even though we are im­plicit in it. The refugee cri­sis is re­ally in­cen­di­ary.” Though se­ri­ous when speak­ing about his work, there’s a light­ness to Mosse’s man­ner which is im­mensely like­able. He’s self-ef­fac­ing, warm and witty. Born in Ire­land in 1980, he took a BA in English Lit­er­a­ture and an MRes in Cul­tural Stud­ies, be­fore do­ing a Post­grad­u­ate Diploma in Fine Art at Gold­smiths and later an MFA in Pho­tog­ra­phy at Yale School of Art. “I was al­ways into pho­tog­ra­phy but my par­ents are both artists and they told me not to go into art be­cause there’s no sta­bil­ity in it and you turn into a rav­ing lu­natic. They’re prob­a­bly right.”

How did you make the move into pho­tog­ra­phy?

I left board­ing school at 16 and went trav­el­ling on my own, around In­dia and Nepal. It was great. I fell in love with trav­el­ling. I did my last two years of sec­ondary school at Leighton Park, a very arty school in Read­ing. They had a dark­room so I spent all my time in there. I got the bug. Be­cause I didn’t ini­tially study pho­tog­ra­phy at uni­ver­sity, I was able to de­velop other fac­ul­ties. I read Shake­speare, I got a de­gree that pushed me in­tel­lec­tu­ally. Af­ter that I was un­em­ploy­able. And I re­alised I was creep­ing into academia, which I didn’t re­ally want to do, so I left and then took the de­ci­sion to go to art school. Of course I was ex­com­mu­ni­cated from the fam­ily... [laughs] I did it all off my own steam but it was a big leap and it was stress­ful. The Gold­smiths post­grad

pro­gramme was quite crit­i­cal to say the least. It changed me as a per­son. Art school’s good fun for the par­ties but in terms of learn­ing, you don’t get a sweet ride, par­tic­u­larly if you’re any good.

You mean be­cause of how the teach­ers cri­tique your work?

Pre­cisely. To be fair, the Gold­smiths teach­ers didn’t see much tal­ent in me.

What was the course like?

We were given stu­dio space and told to work it out. We got min­i­mal ac­cess to lec­tur­ers. I found it all a bit of a con job, re­ally. Later I made it into Yale, which is a great place to study pho­tog­ra­phy. The class was small, nine peo­ple I think, and it’s more ex­pen­sive than Gold­smiths but I took huge stu­dent loans. I en­joyed it be­cause I’d strug­gled to find my niche be­fore. I had all this aca­demic train­ing, I just wanted to learn about tech­nique, to be tu­tored and cri­tiqued in terms of my abil­i­ties with a cam­era. The Yale course was run at that time by Tod Pa­pa­george, it’s run now by Gre­gory Crewd­son. It emerged out of the street pho­tog­ra­phy world.

That’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause where you’ve ended up couldn’t be fur­ther from that world.

Well, them too. It’s much more con­tem­po­rary art now. It’s a kind of main­line for the gallery sys­tem in New York, which is only two hours away.

New York’s been your home ever since: why?

I found that the whole cul­ture of pho­tog­ra­phy was more resid­ual there than it was in Lon­don or Paris. You still have great labs in Lon­don but a lot of them have shut their doors, whereas in New York there are enough pho­tog­ra­phers in dif­fer­ent gen­res still print­ing ana­logue that ac­tu­ally the price for 8 x 10 sheet film is still quite af­ford­able – or at least it was when I was at school. Whereas in Lon­don, it was three or four times the price, es­pe­cially with the cur­rency ex­change back then. It just didn’t make sense.

And do you see your­self there for the fore­see­able?

Oh yes, now I’m to­tally com­mit­ted. I have a real prob­lem with Mr Trump so I’m kind of screwed but there’s noth­ing I can do…

Do you say side­walk in­stead of pave­ment?

No, I still don’t say side­walk!

Go­ing back to your lit­er­ary back­ground, you write elo­quently about your own work. Is the writ­ing as­pect of your work some­thing that gives you plea­sure?

Thank you, that’s nice to hear. I find it very dif­fi­cult, ac­tu­ally. For the es­say in the In­com­ing book I had to lock my­self in a small cot­tage in the west of Ire­land with no dis­trac­tions. I spent two years mak­ing this piece, dur­ing which I faced a lot of re­sis­tance tech­ni­cally, lo­gis­ti­cally, fi­nan­cially… I de­lib­er­ately chose not to write about it un­til right at the end, and even then I was pro­cras­ti­nat­ing.

You ref­er­ence Gior­gio Agam­ben’s phi­los­o­phy in the es­say. Had you come across his ideas be­fore work­ing on the project?

Early on I was try­ing to read around the sub­ject and there was a ref­er­ence to this idea of “bare life”. I thought, ‘That’s what this cam­era does. It strips in­di­vid­u­al­ity, it turns the hu­man be­ing into a bi­o­log­i­cal trace.’ Those no­tions seemed to me to make sense in re­la­tion to Agam­ben’s idea. Whether he agrees or not, I have no clue. But he did agree to let us pub­lish an ex­tract from his book Homo Sacer

and the Rights of Man. The the­ory’s there for any­one who wants to read it. The work speaks for it­self, it doesn’t need ex­plain­ing. Some art does but not the kind I make.

With In­fra, you took a par­tic­u­lar process – Ko­dak Ae­rochrome film – and then de­cided to use it in the con­text of the Congo. Was it a sim­i­lar method this time, or were you al­ready look­ing to do some­thing on the refugee cri­sis be­fore you dis­cov­ered this par­tic­u­lar cam­era?

I wish I could say it was the other way round. I wish that I could say I was moved to make some work about refugees be­fore I em­ployed the cam­era. But ac­tu­ally, I’m pri­mar­ily a pho­tog­ra­pher who strug­gles with pho­tog­ra­phy and with tech­nol­ogy. I have am­biva­lent feel­ings about pho­tog­ra­phy: I love it and I hate it. The Ko­dak Ae­rochrome was used by lots of peo­ple but this rather sin­is­ter cam­era isn’t ac­ces­si­ble to the con­sumer, it’s mar­keted and sold to for­eign gov­ern­ments.

It’s clas­si­fied as a weapon?

It falls un­der what’s called ITAR, the In­ter­na­tional treaty of arms reg­u­la­tion. So ac­cord­ing to law, yes, it’s a sanc­tioned weapons tech­nol­ogy. I en­coun­tered the Ko­dak Ae­rochrome through So­phie Dar­ling­ton, who works for Planet Earth. She’s one of their lead­ing cin­e­matog­ra­phers, and her spe­cial­ism is long lens stuff. She came up to me at my Lon­don open­ing and said, “It’s good to meet you, you don’t know me, but I’d like to talk to you about some­thing…” We met up the next day and she showed me a shoot she’d done with the cam­era on her lap­top. In the end she couldn’t con­vince her pro­duc­ers to use it be­cause it’s not able to do a wide-angle shot. So it can’t set the scene for the viewer in con­ven­tional doc­u­men­tary tele­vi­sion terms. She wanted to find some­body that was stupid enough to do it.

And you were that man.

I ran with it. We were dy­ing to work to­gether on the project, but she’s so busy. We wanted to make an

episode in the film por­tray­ing mi­grant an­i­mals, but what would that say? If you’re por­tray­ing hu­mans flee­ing con­flict along­side an­i­mals that re­ally doesn’t send the right sig­nal. So we buried that idea. But she was al­ways there in spirit and we’d meet up in Lon­don in-be­tween shoot­ing for a few pints. She’s kind of the guardian an­gel of the project.

But you were back work­ing again with cin­e­matog­ra­pher Trevor Tweeten and com­poser Ben Frost? Does col­lab­o­ra­tion come in­stinc­tively to you?

For sure. When I was younger, I loved the soli­tude of be­ing on the open road. I’m sure that a lot of pho­tog­ra­phers will un­der­stand that. But over time I’ve re­alised that col­lab­o­ra­tion in art is spe­cial. Some­thing emerges through good col­lab­o­ra­tion that’s more than the sum of its parts. I’ve been col­lab­o­rat­ing with Trevor Tweeten since 2008. We worked all over the place: in Iraq, Gaza, Ok­la­homa, Thai­land, New York. We know each other so well, we barely need to talk any more. Ben Frost con­tacted me in 2012, so I in­vited him to Congo and that be­came The En­clave. He has a vis­ceral un­der­stand­ing of mu­sic that grabs you in the body, rather than the mind.

Like with your Congo work, this lat­est project com­bines stills, ‘Heat Maps’, and a film

in­stal­la­tion, In­com­ing, at the Bar­bi­can. Since your early work, Air­side and The Fall, you’ve al­ways shown pic­tures large-scale. So was mul­ti­me­dia a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for you?

The En­clave sort of emerged. We were shoot­ing with this 16mm Ae­rochrome film and that was a huge risk. There are fewer and fewer labs that will process movie film. The ones that re­main in Amer­ica are these big­ger labs that deal with Hol­ly­wood, and they’d just bleach the crap out of the film; they sim­ply re­fused to do it our way. We even­tu­ally found a fella up in the moun­tains who was able to do it. And then we had to scan the bloody thing… Be­fore we knew it, we were up on the open­ing date and we had to in­stall it in the space across six screens. I was sur­prised at what we’d cre­ated. It was some­thing I’d never imag­ined do­ing. It was very pow­er­ful. Peo­ple would spend the full 40 min­utes in there, some­times longer. It’s a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence to pre­sent­ing pho­to­graphs on the wall. You can take them or leave them. With film, video, sound, it’s time­based, so you’re cap­tive to some­thing.

You men­tioned ear­lier your am­biva­lent re­la­tion­ship with pho­tog­ra­phy. Is this what you’re re­fer­ring to when you de­scribe doc­u­men­tary as a “bro­ken genre”?

I was talk­ing about pho­to­jour­nal­ism, I sup­pose, but jour­nal­ism through­out has be­come in­creas­ingly bro­ken. So­cial me­dia is chang­ing our at­ten­tion spans and the way we in­ter­act with nar­ra­tives about the world. Pho­to­jour­nal­ism was al­ways a lim­ited sort of lan­guage, though. You’re try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate ur­gent things to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble on the front cover of news­pa­pers, so you need it to be sim­ple and di­rect. You’re also deal­ing with ed­i­tors, who put their mark on your work. The pho­to­graph that you take goes through var­i­ous groups of peo­ple and comes out the end slightly com­pro­mised. There’s this eth­i­cal code writ­ten into pho­to­jour­nal­ism: you don’t over-aes­theti­cise

con­flict or hu­man suf­fer­ing. No form of hu­man com­mu­ni­ca­tion is ob­jec­tive, though. That’s where the Congo work came from. To chal­lenge those rules. As a re­sult, that work’s quite up­set­ting to some peo­ple. To oth­ers, it’s trans­gres­sive in a way that’s lib­er­at­ing. Peo­ple ei­ther love it or hate it.

Why do you think it up­sets peo­ple?

I hope the work puts the viewer into this com­pro­mised space where they feel their own view­er­ship, their own par­tic­i­pa­tion in the im­age, they feel they have to push back against some­thing and they feel a lit­tle bit vi­o­lated, maybe. Good art is not some­thing that makes you feel good. Peo­ple need to be shocked to feel some­thing. There is some­thing in the art world that’s all about shock for shock’s sake. I’m not try­ing to do that, I’m try­ing to med­i­tate on what pho­to­jour­nal­ism is, to ques­tion the way it com­mu­ni­cates and pos­si­bly then tran­scend that.

In writ­ing about the Congo work, you talk about “mak­ing vis­i­ble” an in­vis­i­ble con­flict. Ob­vi­ously to the peo­ple in­volved it’s not in­vis­i­ble. Who is your in­tended viewer?

I made it for a Western au­di­ence. It’s about Western sub­jec­tiv­ity. There’s a cer­tain ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Con­golese rebels and ex­oti­cism in it. I did bring The En­clave back to Goma in Congo, though, at great ex­pense. We had all these pro­jec­tors and screens and amps and me­dia play­ers. We had to hire a venue that had ex­tra elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tors and se­cu­rity.

What was the re­sponse like there?

Peo­ple had re­ally in­ter­est­ing things to say; com­pletely dif­fer­ent from a Western au­di­ence. In Goma there’s no art mu­seum. You can watch the foot­ball on a lit­tle screen on the side of the road, but it’s not like they have art­house cine­mas. It’s been over­run for more than a cen­tury by mis­sion­ar­ies and, more re­cently, NGO and UN work­ers. These peo­ple come with quite an in­stru­men­tal­is­ing approach: it’s all tick­ing

boxes and get­ting re­sults, ob­jec­tives and goals. Art is about ask­ing ques­tions, rather than an­swer­ing them. Peo­ple strug­gled with that. They’d come out and say, ‘That was amaz­ing, but why did you do that?’ I found that the film was be­ing in­ter­preted in a po­lit­i­cal way that I hadn’t an­tic­i­pated. There’s one scene in which a group of rebels shout some­thing in Swahili about killing the Tutsi and as a re­sult some peo­ple thought it was an anti-Tutsi pro­pa­ganda film. Other peo­ple brought all this re­li­gious stuff to it. They thought the colour pink was about God, which I found in­ter­est­ing. There was also a con­tin­gent of more ed­u­cated Con­golese peo­ple who were con­cerned with por­tray­ing a pos­i­tive vi­sion of Congo as a place to visit rather than this neg­a­tive world which, un­for­tu­nately, was the world I en­coun­tered. We saw hor­ri­fy­ing things... a child who’d been stabbed re­peat­edly through the nose, mas­sa­cred with his mother and other women and chil­dren on the side of a hill. How can you wit­ness these things and then make a tourist video? But I see what they mean. And it’s re­ally im­por­tant that Con­golese peo­ple fash­ion the im­age of their coun­try them­selves in­stead of all these Western­ers, pho­to­jour­nal­ists like my­self, who go there and por­tray it as a hope­less place, full of death and sex­ual vi­o­lence. Ul­ti­mately that’s not fair on Congo. The En­clave is what it is, and it will be crit­i­cised, but you live and

learn and you move on. And I brought all this ex­pe­ri­ence to the new piece, In­com­ing.

The im­ages pro­duced by the cam­era you used for Heat Maps and In­com­ing are de­hu­man­is­ing. How does that chal­lenge the way we’re used to see­ing refugees por­trayed?

The cam­era re­veals us not as in­di­vid­u­als but as a glow of heat. Ber­tolt Brecht came up with the idea of alien­ation: you force the viewer into a place where they haven’t re­ally worked out what they think yet. The lan­guage is com­pletely new to them. They’re in this raw space where they can start to see in a fresh way. If you imag­ine In­com­ing shot on a nor­mal cam­era, it wouldn’t be in any way as chal­leng­ing. For years, there have been huge num­bers of pho­to­jour­nal­ists tak­ing these of­ten beau­ti­ful, pow­er­ful pic­tures, of boats

I found this quite a trau­matic piece to make, but it’s not some­thing I tell peo­ple be­cause the nar­ra­tives of the refugees them­selves are pro­foundly more trau­man­tic... There was this one dis­abled man on the boat who was be­ing for­got­ten in the rush. His fam­ily hadn’t even got him a life jacket.

cross­ing into Greece, brim­ming with refugees, in the early morn­ing or the sun­set. I was there my­self and I bumped into James Nachtwey. We were among scores of pho­tog­ra­phers, walk­ing up and down that beach. As a re­sult, the im­agery is to­tally sat­u­rated. I don’t think we see those pic­tures for what they are.

Look­ing at the pic­tures, they look al­most un­real but what was it like on the ground?

I found this quite a trau­matic piece to make, but it’s not some­thing I tell peo­ple be­cause the nar­ra­tives of the refugees them­selves are pro­foundly more trau­man­tic: how dis­lo­cated they are, how they’ve lost ev­ery­thing, how they’ve had to flee con­flict to get to a place that doesn’t wel­come them. They’ve lost their state, their cit­i­zen­ship, their homes. We were shoot­ing in Les­bos and there was this boat that ar­rived in rough weather, with a large Afghan fam­ily aboard. Hu­man traf­fick­ers charge more for a ticket on a boat sail­ing in good weather, so if you’re bring­ing your whole fam­ily you’re go­ing to get the cheap­est ticket, trav­el­ling at the most dan­ger­ous time. There was this one dis­abled man on the boat who was be­ing for­got­ten in the rush. His fam­ily hadn’t even got him a life jacket. Pre­sum­ably be­cause if the boat went down, he’d have lit­tle chance of sur­viv­ing. We put the cam­era away and took him in the car to the next vol­un­teer’s post, where they of­fer dry clothes and tea. I don’t know what hap­pened to him. Although the piece was a bitch to make and my col­lab­o­ra­tors and I had some tough mo­ments, we kept it to­gether and we’re still great friends and very proud of what we made. It’s an hon­our to be able to tell these sto­ries to a wider au­di­ence – and an eth­i­cal im­per­a­tive as well. Rachel Se­gal Hamil­ton

Doyle wasn’t al­ways a pho­tog­ra­pher. De­spite hav­ing stud­ied pho­tog­ra­phy and paint­ing at IADT in Dublin, for 20 years he barely touched a cam­era, hav­ing found him­self un­ex­pect­edly thrown into a ca­reer in the mu­sic busi­ness. He trav­elled around the world DJ-ing, mostly in Europe and Asia, and ended up found­ing and run­ning the Dublin Elec­tronic Arts Fes­ti­val as well as a record la­bel and a record­ing stu­dio. He was all set to be in mu­sic for the rest of his life, but then the re­ces­sion came. “In late 2008, the crash hit in Ire­land. We got hit first and worst. So I packed it in and bought a cam­era. I bought a Le­ica M7, although I’d never had a rangefinder be­fore. And I pretty much just picked up from where I left off af­ter col­lege, just walk­ing around the streets.” Doyle has lived in the same street in Dublin since 1992, in a build­ing bought by his fa­ther “for about ten pounds”, in a derelict and des­per­ate area. “I was one of two peo­ple liv­ing in the street when I moved in,” he says. “It was ba­si­cally dec­i­mated by heroin and drugs. It still kind of is, but it’s now one of the most densely pop­u­lated parts of the city; there was a huge wave of im­mi­gra­tion in the 1990s and 2000s. When I started tak­ing pho­to­graphs again, the whole city had changed. It felt like the whole world had come to Dublin.” In those 20 years, pho­tog­ra­phy had also changed dra­mat­i­cally. Doyle’s in­flu­encers at col­lege were ‘the Mag­num greats’; clas­sic black and white so­cial doc­u­men­tary work. But while he was away, the great surge to­wards con­cep­tual pho­tog­ra­phy and in­creased re­spect for colour work had taken hold. He de­scribes hav­ing trou­ble ‘find­ing his feet’ at the be­gin­ning. “I was shoot­ing black and white film with the M7, ten­ta­tively – en­joy­ing the prints and the dark­room, but not get­ting any­where in par­tic­u­lar. And then I bought the M9, the dig­i­tal ver­sion of the same cam­era. I de­cided to make some re­ally sim­ple changes. I’d never shot ver­ti­cally, ever. And I’d never shot in colour. So I fig­ured, I’ll just do that and see what hap­pens.” What hap­pened was his first pho­to­book, which came out in 2012. It was a col­lec­tion of tightly cropped im­ages of peo­ple in the street: women walk­ing with shop­ping bags and head­scarves, men sit­ting in suits, faces of­ten hid­den from the viewer. At the same time, he’d be­gun shoot­ing a black and white col­lec­tion, which be­came his sec­ond book pub­lished six months later, ON. This work is very dif­fer­ent. It’s all black and white, it’s harder, harsher, more con­fronta­tional, while main­tain­ing the

in­ti­mate dis­tance that char­ac­terises Doyle’s in­ter­ac­tions with his sub­jects. He, and by ex­ten­sion the viewer, can­not know these peo­ple; they will al­ways be ‘the other’. “What I like about it is the un­posed na­ture of pho­tog­ra­phy. If some­one ac­knowl­edges the cam­era, it be­comes a very dif­fer­ent kind of im­age. On the level I’m work­ing on, the pic­ture com­pletely dies. In some of them though, it’s the very, very start of the ac­knowl­edg­ment that can be in­ter­est­ing.” Shortly af­ter ON came End., the fi­nal book in the tril­ogy, which in­cludes both colour and black and white – this time with a very ob­vi­ous (and for some, ob­jec­tion­able) de­sign ele­ment. There are brightly coloured pages, there are il­lus­tra­tions, there is a ca­coph­ony of peo­ple and places and tex­tures. All three books were shot in the same 18month pe­riod, in the same few Dublin streets, and yet each has a dis­tinct char­ac­ter, each dis­tort­ing the city through a dif­fer­ent lens. There is an over-arch­ing sor­row run­ning through the work, which Doyle is very aware of. “With pho­tog­ra­phy there are a lot of things hap­pen­ing. You’re stop­ping time, you’re hold­ing onto things, and there’s a sad­ness to it. I def­i­nitely feel that when I’m out on the street; that’s where I feel a lot of my emo­tions. Most of the hu­man in­ter­ac­tions I have are out on the street, mainly be­cause that’s where most peo­ple are. So whether it’s feel­ings of love, or lust, dis­gust, or I feel re­ally sad and des­per­ate about some­thing or some­body – hav­ing the cam­era, you’re just kind of hold­ing those mo­ments. I take a lot of pho­to­graphs of things that I know aren’t go­ing to be pho­to­graphs that I want to have as pieces of work – but I just don’t want to let them go.” Doyle’s approach ap­pears to be with­out pur­pose, but it’s some­how di­rected by the streets them­selves. He ad­mits to a “slightly un­healthy ob­ses­sion” with Sa­muel Beck­ett over the past 10 years, and his pho­to­graphic wan­der­ings have more than a flavour of a Paul Auster char­ac­ter, trac­ing pat­terns in the street, be­ing pulled by cir­cum­stance. “I have an urge to ex­press my­self, like lots of peo­ple do, but I don’t have any­thing spe­cific that I want to ex­press. So it’s nice to be able to walk out into the street and see what the world gives you. It’s like the op­po­site of a blank can­vas, I guess. It’s about notic­ing some­thing when it hap­pens, and hon­ing in on it and par­ing it back. I’m drawn to cer­tain things, like tex­tures of cloth­ing, or lines and shapes. I wouldn’t like to over-anal­yse it. But I do feel that some­times, some­thing hap­pens in some im­ages that can be quite beau­ti­ful; some­thing re­ally won­der­ful is go­ing on. It’s a re­ally beau­ti­ful way to work.” He is aware of mak­ing de­ci­sions, of di­rect­ing his cam­era at par­tic­u­lar things, but

All three books were shot in the same few Dublin streets, and yet each has a dis­tinct char­ac­ter, each dis­tort­ing the city through a dif­fer­ent lens.

he is wary of dig­ging too deeply into his process. “I’m con­scious of mak­ing choices, but I’m not sure what they are. I’m not sure how much it might di­rect it, but I might be read­ing a book, or have just watched a film, or seen some­thing on­line, and that will ab­so­lutely de­ter­mine the mood, or the zone that I’m in. “It might only last an hour but you just feel it when it’s hap­pen­ing. Ev­ery­thing feeds into what you see. You walk down the same street and de­pend­ing on your mood, it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent street. I can walk down the street and I’m kind of in love with ev­ery­one. And the next day, I hate ev­ery­one. If you have a cam­era in your hand, you’re go­ing to take two com­pletely dif­fer­ent sets of pho­to­graphs. You’re giv­ing your­self over to cir­cum­stances; who might be walk­ing round the cor­ner, what they might be wear­ing.” He de­scribes a walk in Dublin, and it could be an ex­cerpt from Paul Auster’s The New York Tril­ogy. “I’ll go down­town, and say I’m walk­ing down to my cam­era shop to get a bat­tery or some­thing, but I have the cam­era in my hand. I see some­one in a red coat and I end up wan­der­ing, fol­low­ing them up the street there, and I’ll see some­thing else, and then I end up five miles in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. It will be two hours later, and I won’t have taken any good pho­to­graphs, and then some­thing will hap­pen there. “That’s what I love. I think, ‘Je­sus, this is so ran­dom, and so amaz­ing. I was sup­posed to be the other side of town, and for some rea­son I’m up here, and this pho­to­graph hap­pened.’ It’s not some­thing you can pre­con­ceive or plan or any­thing. But there’s al­ways the ques­tion in my head of ‘What about all the other pho­to­graphs I’m miss­ing right now?’ I’m here, and this hap­pened and it’s a good pho­to­graph, but there’s an in­fi­nite amount of pho­to­graphs to be made if you just stand in the same place, you know, for a year.” The poignancy of Doyle’s work might be in the fleet­ing na­ture of half-made stan­zas and snatches of con­ver­sa­tion. He is re­luc­tant to look too closely at the how or the why, but that’s not to say noth­ing is go­ing on. His pho­to­graphs are mo­ments that if an­a­lysed or de­scribed too closely might some­how be drained of mean­ing. “I just want to hold on to mo­ments be­cause ev­ery­thing is re­ally fuck­ing sad. That’s my over-rid­ing emo­tion. It’s an amaz­ing thing, what pho­tog­ra­phy does at its best, at it’s most es­sen­tially pho­to­graphic. You’re al­ways aware, or mind­ful, that ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be gone any­way, and dis­ap­pear – we’re all go­ing to be gone, the phys­i­cal books will be gone, ev­ery­thing will be an­ni­hi­lated at some point. Noth­ing is per­ma­nent, which makes it even more sad. It’s just dev­as­tat­ing, the whole thing, re­ally. You’re just hold­ing onto some­thing for a lit­tle bit longer.” Lot­tie Davies

[Pre­vi­ous spread] Safe from Harm, South Kivu, eastern D.R. Congo, 2012. Mem­ber of Mai Mai Yaku­tumba pos­ing in a cam­ou­flage head­dress made from fo­liage, near Fizi on Lake Tan­ganyika, South Kivu.

[Left] Still frame from In­com­ing, 2015–2016. Three-screen video in­stal­la­tion by Richard Mosse in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Trevor Tweeten and Ben Frost. Co-com­mis­sioned by Na­tional Gallery of Vic­to­ria, Mel­bourne, and Bar­bi­can Art Gallery, Lon­don.

[Right] Men of Good For­tune, 2011. Farm near Bi­hambwe, Ma­sisi Ter­ri­tory, North Kivu. This rich pas­ture­land is fiercely fought over in an es­ca­lat­ing ter­ri­to­rial con­flict. Orig­i­nally owned by in­dige­nous Con­golese tribes, who sub­sist by grow­ing crops and hunt­ing bush meat, this land­scape was seized by pas­toral­ist tribes, such as the Tutsi, who have cut the pri­mor­dial forests to create pas­ture for their cat­tle. Farm­ers and their fam­i­lies are dis­pos­sessed through in­tim­i­da­tion and hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions.

[Above] In­domeni, im­age from Heat Maps, 2016. © Prix Pictet Space

[Right] Pla­ton North Kivu, D.R. Congo, 2012.

[Above] Mo­ria (de­tail), from Heat Maps, 2016. © Prix Pictet Space

[Right] ‘Vin­tage Vi­o­lence’, 2011. Young rebels from Al­liance des Pa­tri­otes pour un Congo Li­bre et Sou­verain (APCLS) pos­ing in fo­liage, Luk­weti, Ma­sisi Ter­ri­tory, North Kivu. APCLS are an armed group com­posed of Hunde tribes­men who have re­belled against Ka­bila and the na­tional gov­ern­ment, who they be­lieve is aligned with the Rwan­dan Tutsi. They are at war with the Na­tional Army (FARDC), and the UN Mis­sion in Congo (MONUSCO).

[Left] Still frame from In­com­ing, 2015–2016. Three-screen video in­stal­la­tion by Richard Mosse in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Trevor Tweeten and Ben Frost.

All im­ages courtesy of the artist, Jack Shain­man Gallery, New York and car­lier|gebauer, Ber­lin.

Richard Mosse’s Heat Maps will be part of the ‘Prix Pictet: Space’ ex­hi­bi­tion at the V&A, 6-28 May.

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