War: Pink in tooth and claw

I went to see Richard Mosse (pronounced like a regular Moss with a silent e’’, in case you were wondering) give a lecture on his’ Infra’ series of photos last night at the Aperture gallery in New York

Richard Mosse

Considering it was a freezing cold night in NYC the attendance was impressive and reflects the buzz created by Mosse’s pictures

Among the many things I learned during the talk was that the film used to create the images is Kodak Aerochrome, which was developed for use in aerial photography by the military in the 1940’s.

As Mosse himself pointed out, its military origins are rather ironic considering he is now using to breathe new life into the war photography genre.

Mosse talked lucidly about the desire to break away from the old macho war photographer image first created by men like Robert Capa.

What better way to do this than use a film that turned much of what it touched the very un-macho color of pink?

This collision of different worlds is what makes the images so interesting to us. A hard-bitten and despotic warlord is turned into a girly gay icon with the click of a shutter.

Of course in doing this Mosse is making us question the veracity of war photographs generally. Just because a photo is blurry, gritty and black and white does that really make more ‘truthful’ than the infrared images?

Indeed what does truth and reality mean when applied to photography.

Mosse is the kind of photographer who doesn’t just ‘take’ pictures he thinks about why he is taking pictures. Which make his images both stimulating and challenging.

All in all, a good reason to brave the winter winds of the Chelsea.

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