Enclave

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Image: Richard Mosse, The Enclave at RHA – Michael Foley

Whether or not you think you’re ‘into’ contemporary art, I promise this show will shake you to your core. The RHA gallery (near Stephens Green) is currently featuring an amazing installation of photos and video from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (essentially a hell on earth perpetual war zone).

The work was Ireland’s entry into the prestigious Venice Biennales last year, and it’s a profoundly moving show. Richard Mosse’s photos of Congolese war lords, soldiers, landscapes and refugees, are shot on colour stock that is also sensitive to infrared light. The resulting images make the invisible, visible – forcing us to confront an unimaginable forgotten conflict. They transform suffering we’ve been conditioned to ignore, into a compelling psychedelic vision.

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Image: The Enclave, Multimedia room, RHA – Michael Foley

The cornerstone of the exhibition is a video installation featuring several screens arranged around a large room. The audience is free to wander amongst them, shifting their perspectives as video leaps from one screen to another. The camera tracks down dirt roads revealing the casualties of recent battles. It takes us up into the forested hills to explore ominously abandoned campsites. It carries us down into an enormous refugee camp, whose silent residents wordlessly communicate our culpability.

The footage features simple, powerful tracking shots filmed by Trevor Tweeten and a resonant ‘found sound’ orchestration by Ben Frost, composed from the explosions of battle and the creeks and echos of the jungle. It’s one of the most deeply affecting pieces of cinema I’ve witness, more reminiscent of the Jungian films of Alejandro Jodorowsky or even Dario Argento’s haunting tripe ‘Suspiria’, than documentary footage. It’s all the more surprising to find something so moving in the gallery context, where video work too often falls into self absorption or obtuseness.

You owe it to yourself to see this show. ‘Enclave‘ is playing every day at the RHA from 11 till 5, from now until March 12th.

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