Saturday, April 15, 2017

Richard Mosse, Heat Maps @ Jack Shainman Gallery

I don’t know, I like Richard Mosse’s work with film that turns green things pink. The effect heightened the tragic absurdity of the alien world of African poverty and military conflicts. The pictures were beautiful and political art at its best, bringing together the tension of the real world and the esthetic of the photograph to highlight a part of Africa where things had gone very wrong. The work that climaxed with his brilliant video installation, which started to reveal that some of things in his pictures were potentially happening for the camera and were not always in the middle of conflict. To his credit, he has moved away from the dated military technology designed to make camouflage useless and on to state-of-the-art military surveillance technology that creates images from the heat emitting off things and, I assume targeting people to be killed from great distances. Mosse is using this technology to expose the recent refugee crisis in the Middle East. The problem is that the process has led to pictures that aren’t very interesting to look at. The images from heat just form a silver-gray muck that coats what would be an ever duller Burtynsky photograph. Looking at the work, it is hard not to be reminded of an early 90’s music video effect. Conceptually, it sounds great to use a military technology for good, but the result does little to show the plight of refugees. All you can make out are large encampments, occasionally showing people at a great distance, so their individual plight clearly isn’t the point and the locations that the settlements are in is what one might expect.

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Jack Shainman Gallery (513 W 20th St. Btw. 10th & 11th Aves.)


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