Last week, Sarah Schroth, our Interim Director and Nancy Hanks Senior Curator at the Nasher Museum, traveled to the Venice Biennale. Following is her second post on art and installations around Venice that caught her attention.
Another stand-out in the 55th Venice Biennale is the Irish pavilion, which features the multi-screen projection of a film entitled The Enclave by Richard Mosse, the product of three years of the artist and his crew traveling the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Six double-sided screens, 12 projectors, so that wherever you stood you had a view of a different time-sequence of the same film on several screens all at once, which greatly heightened the impact. Boy soldiers shooting their guns into the tall grasses, children running through refugee camps, dead bodies on the side of the road stripped of their boots and weapons, disturbing images set to a lyrical sound track by composer Ben Frost, created entirely from field recordings. The horror, however, was literally of a different color than reality, which gave the viewer a sense of physical distance. The film used was discontinued military reconnaissance film, which turned everything green into an unnatural magenta. Making human suffering beautiful, as the curatorial statement puts it. The scenes of Congolese fighters defying the camera is set against the lush landscape of the Congo, but we are fully aware of what is hidden in that lushness. One absolutely striking scene portrays a group of men and boys actually lifting up a wooden house and moving it with their brute strength; up a hill they struggle, a non-metaphor for the fact that villages have to constantly pack up and leave with the approach of rebels. Impossible to be unmoved, unchanged, the experience is monumental, intense, an unforgettable approach to revealing what is going on in the Congo, from which this viewer will never recover. The pure beauty of the film imagery and score only increases the significance of the message.
TOP: Still from The Enclave shot on 16mm color infrared film in Eastern Congo, by Richard Mosse, 2012. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.