Richard Mosse‘s pictures of Congo draw from a different palette of colours, literally. Using recently discontinued Kodak infrared film, his photographs turn the vegetation of the eastern Congo into jarring magenta, while the soldiers’ uniforms go purple. It feels as if we have fallen down a rabbit hole, into a more surreal space. Congo always felt that way to me, as if the regular colour spectrum, the usual yardsticks we have, do not quite hack it.
… Several years ago, I went to interview a militia commander in the eastern highlands. He was as close as you can get to a stereotype of a Congolese warlord: around his neck he wore an amulet of cowries, colonial-era coins and monkey skulls. When we started talking, however, he was articulate and gave me a host of reasons – some reasonable, some not – for why he was fighting.
When I asked if I could take his picture, he shook his head. “You’re going to take my picture to Europe and show it to other white people. What do they know about my life?” He said they would think he was some kind of macaque, a forest monkey.
He was not altogether wrong. All too often we have reduced the conflict in Congo to a spectacle of crazed warlords and greedy politicians. That imagery can prompt us to ascribe the suffering to some inscrutable savagery and throw up our hands in despair. But there is much more to Congo than that, and Mosse’s approach makes us look again, and look closersuggests we apply these infrared lenses to Congo’s politics, as well, to look slightly beneath the surface to understand the actors and their motivations.
(from The Guardian)