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Richard Mosse: Broken Spectre

  • Art
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Still from Broken Spectre, 2022, five channel 4K video with 20.4 surround sound. Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and  carlier | gebauer, Berlin/Madrid © Richard Mosse
Still from Broken Spectre, 2022, five channel 4K video with 20.4 surround sound. Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and carlier | gebauer, Berlin/Madrid © Richard Mosse
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

It can’t be pleasant being Richard Mosse. The Irish photographer has spent his career documenting the ravages of war and the pain of migration, and now he’s turned his high tech scientific imaging cameras on the devastation of the Amazon. Can’t be a lot of laughs in his life. 

The main film here is pure sensory overload, and it is very, very unpleasant. A huge long screen shows images of rivers being pumped full of filth and machinery churning along forest paths. Infrared cameras capture root systems and insects down on the forest floor in hypercolour, psychedelic high definition. Men slice through trees, birds wade along riverbanks, all in solemn black and white. One horribly long sequence shows a meat processing plant, just endless guts and gore. There are shots of gold miners, illegal loggers, cattle farms. It’s truly horrible, truly shameful. 70 minutes of genuine discomfort that I don’t think anyone can sit through.

The sound pounds you relentlessly with deep, chest-rattling bass.

Less good are the photos themselves, shown before you get to the film. Outside of the context of the film, with its constant stream of twisting, stomach-turning imagery, the isolated photos are just too pretty, the punch of meaning just coming too late after initial viewing to have anything like the same impact.

But that film, damn. It shows the Amazon as a devastated, barren, singed place. And all because of our insatiable greed, nothing else. The film flicks between stark monochrome and deep, hallucinatory colour, it’s dizzying. The sound pounds you relentlessly with deep, chest-rattling bass. It’s incredibly oppressive. The whole thing is brutal, overwhelming, affecting, disgusting, heartbreaking, and utterly brilliant.

Written by
Eddy Frankel

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