The Enclave, production still, Trevor Tweeten (cinematographer) shooting Arriflex 16mm camera mounted on Steadicam in South Masisi, Nov 2012.
Richard Mosse, The Enclave
The Pavilion of Ireland at the 55th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia
Fondaco Marcello, San Marco 3415 (Calle dei Garzoni), 30124 Venezia
1 June – 24 November, 2013
Vernissage: 29–31 May, 2013
Richard Mosse will represent Ireland with The Enclave, a major new multi-media installation at the 55th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia. The Commissioner and Curator is Anna O’Sullivan, Director of the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland. Ireland at Venice is an initiative of Culture Ireland and the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.
Mosse’s practice resides at the interface between documentary journalism and contemporary art. For centuries, the Congo has compelled and defied the Western imagination. Richard Mosse brings to this subject the use of a discontinued military surveillance technology, a type of color infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome. Originally developed for camouflage detection, this aerial reconnaissance film registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson, and hot pink.
Infrared film found civilian uses among cartographers, agronomists, minerologists, and archaeologists, to reveal subtle changes in the landscape. In the late 1960s, the medium was appropriated in artwork for rock musicians like the Grateful Dead or Jimi Hendrix, trickling into the popular imagination as the palette of psychedelic experience, eventually accumulating the aesthetic of kitsch.
With the collaboration of cinematographer Trevor Tweeten, composer Ben Frost, and film editor Melody London, Mosse has created a highly immersive five-screen multimedia installation titled The Enclave.
The Enclave is a mythic conflation of many discrete rebel enclaves in Eastern Congo. During a period of two years Mosse, Tweeten, and Frost inserted themselves as journalists within armed groups, which fight nomadically in a war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres and systematic sexual violence. Film, photography, and sound recorded during these trips have been used in the production of the Venice project.
“I am beginning to perceive this vicious loop,” Mosse writes from Goma, “of subject and object. The camera provokes an involuntary unraveling, a mutual hijack of authorship and autonomy.” Neither scripted nor directed, Congolese rebels return the gaze of Mosse’s camera in a distinctly confrontational and accusatory manner. The camera seems to mesmerize and provoke everyone it encounters in The Enclave. This precarious face-off reveals an ambiguous defiance, vulnerability, and indictment.
A new publication entitled The Enclave, with an essay by Jason Stearns, will be published by Aperture Foundation to coincide with this exhibition.
Let’s promote gun-control provisions and regulations that enhance teaching and learning as well as justice and safety for children, not those that will further incarcerate, punish and demonize young people of color. We’ve been there before.
It was, after all, the well-meaning gun-control and youth advocates who drafted the now notorious zero-tolerance provisions into the federal Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. It made mandatory a one-year expulsion (“exclusion”) from school for youth arrested for possession of firearms on school property - at pain of losing federal school funding. State legislatures rushed to comply with the mandate, and within a five-month period, legislation was passed in every state to place schools in compliance with the Safe Schools Act expulsion requirements, the quickest ever state compliance to maintain federal funding eligibility. One year later, the Safe Schools Act was amended, transforming the prohibition from possession of a “firearm” to possession of a “dangerous weapon,” and the door was pushed open for a stampede. A dangerous weapon was defined as “a weapon, device, instrument, material or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.” (18 USCA 930(g) (2) 1998. Weapons came to include a shoe, a foot, a book. The vast numbers of children and youth since arrested in and expelled from schools - in fact, deprived of an education - have been arrested or expelled for minor and non-weapon misbehaviors and have been disproportionally children of color and children with disabilities.
This reminds me of a distinction a friend made between the “school to prisons” pipeline and “schools as prisons” present.
Can the state create “safety” without leveraging racialized structural violence to do so? What would anti-violence in schools look like if we imagine it from the perspective of disenfranchised and criminalized young people?
Cloud Blood, Ani DiFranco
stop on the top of the ridge just to feel the wind
on my rand mcnally
then i feel the air grow cold as i drift in
to the first blue of the valley
and you’re wonderin how far down you are
on my call back list
but you don’t realize every time i find i’m by a phone
the landscape shifts
Hm. That can happen?
I wondered if I should write a follow up post to this dissent now that it looks like VAWA timed out without a vote. I’m not sure what else there is to say except a few quick things. First, I know tumblr has a way of enabling traffic among mainly like-minded people (er, sometimes), so I want to say officially to any side-eyes or crinkled eyebrows provoked by the post that I welcome questions and thoughtful debate.
Second, we should note that the one aspect of this latest version of VAWA that potentially troubled the legitimacy of the nation state — tribal jurisdiction over people assaulting Native women — was enough for Republicans to let the whole thing collapse. It’s important to register what kind of “violence against women” policy can be absorbed by the state, what kind is much harder to get through, and why.
Finally, what would happen if all of the anti-domestic/sexual violence programs and activists responded to this news about VAWA’s descent by collectively, actively, and loudly supporting Idle No More; doing their all to opt out of and eliminate Secure Communities; and focusing on community organizing to increase safety, support and accountability led by survivors and our communities? What kind of potential insurgencies could we create?
I saw Lincoln and then, a few days later, Django Unchained. Some reviewers have been comparing the two films, as if they are two sides of the same coin. They’re not. Lincoln dramatizes a calculus that weighs an escalating white body count and the political cost of preserving a western power. Slavery is not seriously discussed in the film as a moral crisis, but is instead a variable that helps diagram the catastrophe of white death, whether it be the death of individuals or the death of the union.
Django Unchained is…lol, something else. (I can’t work up the strength to do a commentary on it. Looking forward to reading others.)
A better soul mate for Lincoln is Gangs of New York, which I also saw for the first time this week. An important plot point lives in the resentment that New York City Irish “native” Americans had about slave emancipation and the Civil War. Again, the issue was primarily about the panic of almost certain death or disability through the draft of working class people for the war. One character says that when names of the drafted men are read in the town square, it was as if they were reading the names of people who were already dead. They rebelled by rioting, lynching about 100 black people, and burning down the orphanage for black children.
Gangs of New York was more honest and articulate about the heart of the problem in both films, making it a more refreshing and more bracing story. It’s also an elegant coincidence that Daniel Day Lewis plays both Lincoln in Lincoln and Bill the Butcher, a core character in Gangs. Watching Bill the Butcher/Lincoln send his knife propelling towards a poster of Lincoln surrounded by the appeal “Our Country Needs You” is both hilarious and eerie, like a backwards-in-time commentary about Lincoln. Even Lincoln is over Lincoln’s irritating sense of self-satisfaction.
Radin explains that the International Biological Program (IBP) that ran from the early 1960s through 1974, and which set the 20th-century scientific stage for the biological sampling of indigenous peoples (along with nonhuman communities) as remnants of a bygone world, an increasingly “civilizing” yet ironically toxic world. She reminds us that “The stated goal of research on primitive isolates was to salvage information that might benefit civilized communities’ understandings of themselves.”
But the conception of indigenous bodies as “natural resources,” the raw materials upon which nations are built, did not begin in 1960. In the 18th and 19th centuries too the U.S. nation building project relied on the appropriation of indigenous peoples’ lands. The U.S. positioned itself—positioned whites—as the rational agent capable of transforming nature into productive property, and indigenous peoples in these lands as incapable of developing, indeed surviving in the face of the modern industrial state.
Whereas indigenous land (and bones and cultures ready for study) were seen as the rightful inheritance of whites in the 18th and 19th centuries and before—the live Indian has apparently been vanishing since contact, literally meeting death in the face of Westward expansion, or transformed biologically and culturally beyond recognition. Today rare, precious indigenous DNA is the remaining natural resource to be appropriated or stewarded “before it is too late.”
As Jenny Reardon and I wrote in a recent Current Anthropology article, in the 21st century, the goal is to transform the raw natural resources that are genomes into something of value for humans: Genome knowledge supposedly “for the good of all.” But who in pragmatic terms counts as fully human, and as recipient of those benefits is the question. Certainly a vanished Indian cannot make a claim.
Self Possession, 1992
Polaroid print and text