Sublime Plight: Richard Mosse, Ai Weiwei and the social turn

 Some part of me wishes I was profoundly moved by Richard Mosse’s video installation, Incoming (2014–17), at the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2017 Triennale. Although most viewers were captivated by it, I felt uncomfortably cynical, not indifferent to the suffering it purported to show but to its overt use of theatrics. While I can appreciate Mosse’s ghost-like imagery of refugees who appear at once distant and intimate, I think the emotional core of the work owes more to collaborator Ben Frost’s lively electronic soundtrack, which is ultimately manipulative in its effect. This is the dilemma of politically-motivated, pathos-laden work: how do we negatively judge something that has such a good heart? Confronted with Mosse’s images of a child’s autopsy whose body has decomposed, it is hard not to feel callous when judging such things based on formal superficialities.

Buy   or   Subscribe   or   Login