To say the war in Congo is intense would be an understatement. The number of deaths and the amount of rape that’s happened over the last 20 years is so large it’s hard for any of us to wrap our heads around. Last year photographer Richard Mosse took a trip to Congo, armed with infrared film which distors the images, turning everything we see as green into vibrant shades of pinks and magentas. Jason Stearns in this Guardian article from last year sums it up well:
This Aerochrome infrared film was developed by the US military in the 1940s to detect camouflage and to reveal part of the spectrum of light the human eye cannot see. But where this technology was invented to detect enemy positions in the underbrush, Mosse uses it to make us call into question pictures we thought we understood. These are the images we take for granted from Congo: the ruthless militia commander, the rape victim, an unwitting peasant. But in Mosse’s pictures, Congo’s photographic clichés are represented in a counterpoint of electric pink, teal blue and lavender. By representing the conflict with an invisible spectrum of infrared light, he pushes us to see this tragedy in new ways.
So you have this beautiful conundrum. The images look like some kind of bizarre alternative universe, or like a brutalist regime has taken over Oz. It’s so interesting though to see a place that’s got so much going wrong ending up looking so visually appealing. You can see Richard’s full set of photos by clicking here.