Behind the Lens of Richard Mosse: Artsy Speaks with “The Enclave” Cinematographer Trevor Tweeten

After three years spent on journeys to Eastern Congo alongside Richard Mosse, the Irish photographer’s cinematographer and editor, Trevor Tweeten, made yet another trip—to the 55th Venice Biennale—where he and Mosse spent the spring shipping video equipment across canals and editing The Enclave on site at the Irish Pavilion. Although visitors to the pavilion had the chance to view the exotic, lucid pink “Infra” series in moving image, Tweeten offers Artsy an exclusive glimpse behind the scenes. In his chat with Artsy, Tweeten reflects on his Biennale impressions and the epic journey from Congo to Venice—complete with photographs taken during the collaboration, sent from Mosse himself.

Artsy: Can you describe your involvement with the 55th Venice Biennale?

Trevor Tweeten: I was working with Richard Mosse on his multi-media installation The Enclave for the Pavilion of Ireland. My role was cinematographer and editing for the piece, which also involved composer Ben Frost and writer John Holten. Richard has made several trips to Eastern Congo over the last few years, and I accompanied him on three journeys. We arrived in Venice last March, after all the film was processed and scanned, and spent the month editing the project on site. Working in the pavilion was very opportune, as the space itself played a strong role in the editing choices.  

Artsy: How has your collaborative participation in the Biennale influenced your own art practice?

TT: The piece is the result of a dialogue not only between artists but also media, at the crossroads of photography, documentary film, video art, sound, and installation. My own practice, while focused mostly on sculpture and video, explores similar spaces, so this conversation will certainly inform my way forward. Overall, working intimately with such talented people on a project of this scale was very fulfilling on a personal level, and honestly, I'm curious myself how it’s going to work its way out as I return to a studio practice.     

Artsy: After long days of installing, did you find find yourselves frequenting any particular restaurants, cafes, or bars?

TT: During the install process we spent a lot of evenings at La Mascareta near Santa Maria Formosa. The place has a lot of charm, especially during the off season as it’s frequented by a steady stream of Venetian characters. The guy who runs the place is quite the character himself ... If it’s late enough on a Friday or Saturday night you might be lucky enough to witness the cheeky proprietor chop the top of a bottle of Prosecco with his trusty saber then kiss you on the lips while declaring his love for everyone in the room!

Artsy: Last, we know you must have toured the other exhibitions while in Venice. What were some of your highlights—perhaps the exhibitions that have stayed with you after you left or aspects of the Biennale that you feel will stir up the most art world dialogue?

TT: I think a lot about the hypnotic colors and macro landscapes in the 35mm film of Melvin Moti and found all of the Rudolf Steiner’s blackboard drawings really inspiring. I was also really moved by the wave paintings of Thierry De Cordier. With Tino Seghal up for the Turner Prize on the heels of the Golden Lion, I’m sure he’s going to be talked about. And, finally, I’m really glad I didn’t miss the Fondazione Prada’s recreation of Harald Szeeman’s exhibition “When Attitudes Become Form”. The wait and the guided viewing process was a little tiresome but seeing these works as they were originally assembled as well as the interviews with the artists was an interesting counterpoint to the spectacle and grandeur of the Biennale.

Explore the 55th Venice Biennale on Artsy.