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?