Richard Mosse

Vibrant infrared photographs of the industry-scarred Amazon greet viewers to Richard Mosse’s latest exhibition, “Broken Spectre.” Alongside portraits of miners, farmers, and Indigenous activists, detailed captions contextualize these abstracted landscapes and draw links between the complex environmental and sociopolitical factors accelerating deforestation in South America. The aerial shots are a staging platform for Mosse’s ambitious seventy-minute moving image installation: a multiscreen panorama that rips through the gallery’s dark basement.

In a visceral tableau, the film captures the illicit logging of hardwoods at brutally close range, interspersed with drone footage of the Amazon backed by a thrumming score. The unbearable pitch of the chainsaw offers no reprieve. Elsewhere, a man feverishly looks over his shoulder while setting scrubland alight, Mosse’s crew relentlessly tracking him as night falls and the swidden burns in a manufactured hellscape. The access that Mosse and his team were granted—with only the help of a local fixer—is staggering.

In parallel to the decimated forest, Adneia, a Yanomami woman, laments the devastation of her community. She condemns Bolsonaro while challenging Mosse’s crew to do something more than just film her, imploring us all to do something other than just watch. Broken Spectre is a searing indictment of ecological crime. Yet it is hard not to wonder about the reach and utility of such vital documentary footage, screened at a venue that shares the building with a Soho House outpost. Nevertheless, this is accomplished, discomfiting work. Mosse notably resists hierarchies of pain—miners desperately eking out a living are themselves exposed to the mercury that leaches into rivers held sacred by Indigenous people—a reminder that everyone suffers in this arena of unhindered extraction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post A photography critic’s life in images
Next post Holiday Gift Guide 2022: The Best Cookware For Home Cooks