“Beauty is one of the main lines to make people feel something, it’s the sharpest tool in the box. And if you are trying to make people feel something. If you are able to make it beautiful then they’ll sit up and listen. And often, if you make something that’s derived from human suffering or from war, if you represent that with beauty and sometimes it is beautiful that’s creates an ethical problem in the viewer’s mind. Then, they are confused and angry and disoriented. This is great because you got them to actually think about the active perception and how this imagery is being produced and consume.”
The role of an artist is to find beauty where the rest of the world see none. The role of an artist is also to shed light on issues that are ignored. To manipulate reality and serve it to us with a new flavor that may captivate our attention.
That what’s the Irish photojournalist and artist, Richard Mosse has done with these images, making a human tragedy dramatically, uncomfortably beautiful.
“The Enclave” was produced using a recently discontinued military film technology originally designed in World War II to reveal camouflaged installations hidden in the landscape. This film registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson, and hot pink. On the threshold of the medium’s extinction, Mosse employed this film to document an ongoing conflict situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. This humanitarian disaster, in which 5.4 million people have died since 1998, is largely overlooked by the mass media. Frequent massacres, human rights violations, and widespread sexual violence remain unaccounted for. In a kind of advocacy of seeing,The Enclave attempts to cast this forgotten tragedy in a new spectrum of light, to make this forgotten humanitarian disaster visible.
By touching us with these images, he is attempting to get our attention on what’s going on in Congo. In a world where we are desensitized by image of war, genocides, where we are bombarded with information and violent images, maybe the only way to captive our mind is to shock us with disturbing, unexpected beauty. Richard succeed in making us uncomfortably captivated by these images, which also made us questions what we were looking at. I have to said that before I knew about the origin of these images, I was uncomfortable about sharing them. I still am a bit torn, but what’s worst than leaving things in the dark? How can you treat a disease that you ignore? These images may be controversial to some, but they may be necessary for awareness.
Art shouldn’t always be comfortable. Art should make you question things, questions ourselves, the way we live, society, the way we think, the way we relate to humanity. Art should disturb the establishment and make you rethink about your whole existence.
Ignoring what’s going on in Congo is a lost for humanity. We are losing beautiful souls, spirits, we are losing a part of the world potential, talents, brains. By losing them we are losing love, which is the essence of every human being on Earth. That’s the reason why art is important, a desperation, a cry for help, to disturb your life’s routine, or remind you of the elephant in the room.The Mercy Corps Action Center and Portland Art Museum have partnered to provide an educational opportunity that examines the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the complicated process of Mercy Corps’ community-driven development work. To know more about the conflict and how to help ans also about the exhibit, check out the links below: