Socialist Worker

Incoming - the ‘othering’ of refugees on a heat-seeking camera

by Richard Payne
Issue No. 2547

Incoming by Richard Mosse The Barbican Centre, Silk St, London, EC2Y 8DS. Until 23 April. Free entry

Incoming

by Richard Mosse

The Barbican Centre, Silk St, London, EC2Y 8DS.

Until 23 April. Free entry


Conceptual documentary photographer Richard Mosse says he wants to turn a weapon used by the state back onto the state.

Mosse ingeniously achieves this aim with the assistance of a long range heat-sensitive camera, normally deployed for military purposes to target and objectify the “other”.

He takes disturbing and moving images of refugees while visually capturing insights into the private and personal predicament of forced exile.

The eerie reversed positive-negative images shot in places such as France, Greece and Libya lend the subject matter an alien quality.

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On immense screens we see humanity clinging onto life in crammed lorries and at sea on perilously overcrowded hulks.

We see scenes of repression, repulsion and rescue, as well as refugees being processed and warehoused.

Mosse shows European Union Frontex frigates and fighter planes launched from aircraft carriers as well as shots of tranquil or perhaps treacherous waves, and clouds drifting across the moon.

Looking at images on this scale in the darkness of the gallery combined with a jarring soundscape leaves a lasting impression of this growing 21st century tragedy.

The exhibition is commendable and comes with useful teachers’ notes and questions for student visits.

It raises many issues besides the most obvious—how can such enormous resources be applied to exclusion while pitiful resources are presented that could be a lifeline for our fellow humans?


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