Richard Mosse’s Pink Soldiers

The New Yorker photo blog is featuring a series of pictures from Congo done recently by photographer Richard Mosse. The series is called “Quick” and it was shot on a strange infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome. I find them confusing, remarkable and beautiful. I don’t know what exactly he was after but he is making me rethink documentary photography, war photography and people photographed in war. The images are exactly what I’d expect of strong “documentary” style except things are rendered pink. Playful, incongruous, toxic, absurd, inviting.

I think they’re brilliant on first look. But I’m also confused, and I really want to hear what people have to say about this project. You should familiarize yourself with Mosse’s other work, which the New Yorker describes as “Conceptual Documentary”. Maybe thats about right, and if so I think I’m damned intrigued.

This could get into a discussion of idea versus technique .. or how style can overpower or underwrite the message of a photographer. Here clearly the photographer using an technique to bring out something in the photograph and subject matter than otherwise is just ever-so-slightly-hidden by normal photographic process. With a minor varient in wavelength, we’re seeing a pink world, soldiers fighting in a fantasy forest. It makes their battles seem more absurd than any ‘straight’ picture of war I’ve ever seen. And that is remarkable.

Would we be thinking about our wars differently if the battlefields were pink?

7 Responses to “Richard Mosse’s Pink Soldiers”

  1. Kate Wilhelm

    Thanks for the link. Did you notice how he titles his images? Things like “The Trouble with Classicists” and “Everything Merges with the Night” and “The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.” Very intriguing…

  2. Zeljko Naic

    I believe this is the result of documentary photographer’s struggle to reinvent the purpose of the medium in front of an increasingly indifferent audience. Using unusual technique can not be called a concept. I believe that the ultimate goal of a documentary work n general is to make an impact on the real world circumstances. If you render that world surreal ultimately you will make consumers think that all those people are merely players and their lives are storyline set on a pink stage. I think this is the parody of documentary photography.

  3. Jen Pruett

    Those are some amazing photos thank you for sharing, Jen

  4. Conflict in Pink | SnapperTalk

    […] also the New Yorker and DVAFoto articles on […]

  5. Worth the read: Joerg Colberg in conversation with Richard Mosse | dvafoto

    […] this year I posted my thoughts on Richard Mosse’s new project from Congo. Today Joerg Colberg from Concientious (and […]

  6. Grammarian

    Underwrite? Are you sure you don’t mean undermine?

  7. Some thoughts on iPhone pictures and POYi | dvafoto

    […] invalidate the work. Really, the colors aren’t changed much at all compared to work such as Richard Mosse’s infrared work exploring conflict in Congo.Artistic technique goes a long way in communicating tone and emotion in photography, and I think we […]

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