How Should Conflict Be Presented in Art?

As I walked from my car to campus this morning, I opened the Public Radio International app on my phone and pressed Play. I listened to a conversation between journalist Jian Ghomeshi and Irish photographer Richard Mosse, who was awarded the prestigious Deutsche Börse Photogrpahy Prize this week for his installation called “The Enclave.”

“The Enclave” is a multimedia exhibit that uses a unique variety of infrared film to capture images of the effects of the conflict raging in eastern portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Using this film, Mosse presents a psychedelic, dreamlike portrait of this war-torn region, which he hopes will bring attention to the conflict. Mosse notes that because this conflict lacks the action and explosive drama of other conflicts such as the American war in Iraq, it rarely makes headlines. Thus, average international news consumers are rarely given opportunities to learn about a conflict that is characterized by displacement, poverty, and sexual violence, which leave fewer physical scars than more famous wars.

During the interview, Ghomeshi asked Mosse whether he had received any backlash for depicting the horrors of war in such a beautiful way, and Mosse acknowledged the controversy of his art. However, he explained that he seeks to question the simple, almost neutral way in which conventional war photography depicts conflict in order to stimulate thought and raise awareness.

Do you find this installation to be problematic? What do you think should be the relationship between conflict and art?

Post submitted by Jacob.

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