Richard Mosse, Broken Spectre
Converge 45 Presents Broken Spectre by Richard Mosse at the Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art at Lewis & Clark College: August 24–December 15, 2023
“Devastation in the Amazon rainforest and the climate change it triggers tend to unfold in ways that are too vast to comprehend, too minute to perceive, and too normalised to see. In an attempt to render the scale and urgency of the Amazon’s extensive, impending collapse, Richard Mosse’s most ambitious work to date employs a dazzling array of photographic techniques.
Broken Spectre is an immersive, 74-minute film that shifts between a manifold of ecological narratives, from the topographic to the anthropocentric, and to a careful examination of nonhuman violence and survival. Mosse and his team spent years documenting different fronts of destruction, degradation and environmental crimes in the Amazon Basin and related eco-systems.
Broken Spectre operates on multiple scales: inky, fluorescent microscopic imagery describes the interdependent complexity of the Amazonian biome in scientific detail, while cinematic monochrome infrared scenes track illegal mining, logging and burning, industrial agriculture and indigenous activism.
Meanwhile, airborne multispectral footage starkly renders vast swathes of empty land in contrast to the lush rainforest, showing the vast scale and systematic organisation of the Amazon’s destruction.
In accompanying photographic works, Mosse renders the invisible visible: through multispectral cameras that emulate satellite imaging technology, alongside ultraviolet botanical studies, and heat-sensitive analogue film warped, mottled and degraded by the oppressive environment and by the burning forest itself. Accompanying these experimental documentary works are Mosse’s hypnotically vivid aerial maps, which zoom out and colourise the scale and extent of natural decimation in piercing detail, employing specially-made Geographic Information System (GIS) imaging technology.
As climate change continues to define our era and the future of the planet, Mosse bears witness to a rapidly unfolding catastrophe: recent scientific studies predict that the Amazon is close to reaching a tipping point, at which stage it will no longer be able to generate rain, triggering mass forest dieback and carbon release at devastating levels, impacting climate change, biodiversity, and local and international communities. Mosse shows both human sides of the tragedy: from the Yanomami and Munduruku Indigenous communities fighting for survival; to illegal gold miners poisoning and destroying entire river systems for tiny handfuls of gold; alongside Brazilian cowboys wilfully burning their pristine surroundings to create pasture for cattle to sell on international meat and leather markets.
Created from 2018 to 2022, Broken Spectre is published ahead of gravely significant general elections in Brazil, in which Jair Bolsanaro’s victory may seal the destruction of the irreplaceable Amazon forever.”
Richard Mosse’s Broken Spectre is curated by Christian Viveros-Fauné and organized by Converge 45 and its institutional partners as part of its 2023 citywide biennial program Social Forms: Art As Global Citizenship. Broken Spectre runs concurrently with Occidental, an exhibition of Mosse’s photographs at Blue Sky, Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts in partnership with Converge 45.
For more information on Converge 45 and Social Forms, please visit converge45.org
Richard Mosse (Irish, b. 1980, he/him/his) is an artist who has consistently documented historically significant subjects using photographic techniques that mediate and foreground elements of these narratives. Mosse’s subject matter is frequently charged and complex, employing unique technologies and collaborative approaches. Mosse seeks to heighten and extend the language of documentary photography to draw attention to overlooked yet urgent conflicts, often with a critical emphasis on the limitations of photojournalism, an activist’s sense of purpose, and a belief in the power of aesthetics to communicate, creating immersive and groundbreaking new forms in documentary photography and the moving image.
Mosse was awarded the Prix Pictet (2017), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2014), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2011). He earned an MFA in Photography from Yale School of Art (2008), a PG Dip in Fine Art from Goldsmiths (2005), an MRes in Cultural Studies and Humanities (2003) and a first class honors BA in English Literature and Language from Kings College London (2001). His work has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, the Barbican Art Gallery, Louisiana Museum, SFMOMA, the National Gallery of Victoria, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Akademie der Künste, MAST Foundation, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, ICA Boston, and represented Ireland at the 55th Venice Biennale. He has published eight books, most recently a monograph of Broken Spectre, published by Loose Joints in collaboration with 180 Studios and Converge 45, with texts by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Txai Suruí, Jon Lee Anderson, Christian Viveros-Fauné and others.
Social Forms: Art As Global Citizenship is curated by Christian Viveros-Fauné and organized by Converge 45 and its institutional partners as part of its 2023 citywide exhibition. With more than 50 artists presenting work at over 15 venues spanning the city of Portland, the exhibition centers on the idea of art-as-a-social-form: contemporary and historical artworks that ask us to consider global power shifts taking place in contemporary society.
Converge 45 supports Portland’s creative ecosystem by promoting the work of artists & organizations in the Pacific Northwest and improving access to broader art discourses within our communities.
About the Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art at Lewis & Clark College
A gallery of contemporary art located on the grounds of Lewis & Clark College, the gallery’s exhibitions are mounted in 3,500 square feet of modern and highly flexible space, located across a beautiful plaza from Fields Center for the Visual Arts. 615 S. Palatine Hill Road Portland, Oregon 97219 USA, (503) 768-7682.