The Venice Questionnaire #5: Richard Mosse
ArtReview sent a questionnaire to a selection of the artists exhibiting in various national pavilions of the Venice Biennale, the responses to which will be published over the coming days. Richard Mosse is representing the Republic of Ireland. The pavilion is located atFondaco Marcello, San Marco 3415 (Calle dei Garzoni), 30124 Venezia
What can you tell us about your plans for Venice?
I’m showing a new multi-channel film, The Enclave, which was made in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The film was shot on an extinct 16mm infrared film, which was originally designed for military reconnaissance, and renders the jungle war zone in disorienting psychedelic hues.
Are you approaching the show in a different way to how you would with a ‘normal’ exhibition?
It’s a new approach for me because this work has been a deeply collaborative effort. In the past I’ve preferred losing myself to anonymous nomadism, where I’m accountable to no one, and my process doesn’t need explaining until much later, when the ideas have fully resolved.
Working closely with the musician Ben Frost, the cinematographer Trevor Tweeten, and the writer John Holten – in some extremely challenging situations – has been a remarkably different process, perhaps even more intuitive in some respects. Congo threw some punches along the way, and we had to learn to roll with those in order to produce this work. I guess that’s always been a part of my practice, but when you have a team, a schedule, and a very definite deadline (Venice), it hardens into an intuitive philosophy: embracing failure, admitting defeat, and through that, allowing the world to reveal itself.
The installation itself embraces the architecture of the Irish pavilion, the Fondaco Marcello. The Enclave unfolds over six screens installed inside a large darkened chamber. The screens are custom built steel frames with rounded corners exactly replicating the camera gate of an Arriflex SR-2 movie camera, which was used to shoot the film. By placing each screen adjacent to a column, my hope is to activate the pavilion’s architecture, working with it rather than resisting the columns, which are difficult to work around. The screens can be viewed from both sides, creating a sort of sculptural labyrinth within the space. The viewer must actively participate in the piece spatially, moving through the chamber according to the work’s emphasis of sound and vision. It’s a very disorienting experience.
Stills from ‘The Enclave’, shot on 16mm color infrared film in Eastern Congo, by Richard Mosse, 2012