Saturday, November 08, 2014

November 9 Heart of Darkness

Richard Mosse speaks today of his experience filming war in Congo.

We see with our eyes. But there are other "colors" beyond our vision. We call those ultraviolet, for light with shorter waves beyond violet, and infrared for long waves beyond red.

Mosse found an archaic infrared movie film stock made in WWII which was tuned in "color" to separate camouflaged military from plant life. The film prints the infrared reflected by natural plants as pink.

With a team of fixers, Mosse took his camera into Eastern Congo. The area is filled with warlords, remnants of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Today they continue their dirty little war by mining minerals, like tantalum, an essential ingredient in every electronic device made today. It is smuggled to China where it sells for $400 a pound.

His resulting video work, The Enclave, has just opened at the Portland Art Museum. The work comes from the 2014 Venice Biennale.

Many people are critical of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. But they miss that it is a meditation on the experience of the narrator, and not a judgement on a continent. I've been in North Kivu, in a time of considerably less risk, though we drove by vast refugee camps and heard gunfire nearby.

Nonetheless, the 20 year war in Eastern Congo, with more than 6 million perished, is reprehensible.

The war has also decimated the endangered mountain gorilla, a sustainable source of ecotourism.

Richard Mosse speaks at the Portland Art Museum 1219 SW Park 2PM Members, free; otherwise regular admission - so you can see the show - seniors $12, else $15