The Castle is a meticulous documentation of refugee camps and staging sites along mass migration routes into the European Union via Turkey from the Middle East and Central Asia. The result of numerous preparatory visits, often revealing changing immigration policy, Mosse has filmed each site from high elevation to reveal camps that are frequently closed, off limits, or restricted to photographers. By attaching a thermographic video camera designed for long range border enforcement and insurgent detection to a robotic motion control arm, Mosse has gathered the source footage used to composite the resulting ‘heat maps’. These durational photographs are thermal panoramas made up of hundreds or sometimes thousands of overlapping ‘cells’ or individual frames, a truncated spatio-temporal form that speaks to the lived experience of refugees indefinitely awaiting asylum and trapped in a Byzantine state of limbo. Describing space and perspective in ways that seem to echo depictions of medieval cityscapes, such as the Nuremberg Chronicle, these images document the fences, security gates, portaloos, loudspeakers, food queues, tents and temporary shelters of camp architecture. The various ways in which each camp interrelates with adjacent citizen infrastructure are made apparent – by turns marginal, ruderal, isolated, overlooked, concealed, integrated, dispersed, regulated, militarized – allowing the reader to meditate on the situations in which these people are forced to live, and what that shows us about the approach and policies of each host nation and community. Reading heat as both metaphor and index,The Castle allows the reader to meditate on the current conditions of refugees through ideas of hypothermia, exposure, climate change, mortality, and biopolitics.
The most recent edition of the Prix Pictet – the global photography prize – was won by the Irish artist Richard Mosse. An exhibition of his winning work, and that of 11 other leading international artists has thrilled audiences on its extensive global tour and will open in Ireland at the Gallery of Photography on November 16 (runs until 20 January 2019, admission free). The exhibition presents a unique opportunity to view artworks of outstanding quality that tackle burning global issues of our time.
Drawing on the theme of ‘Space’, the 12 shortlisted photographers explore subjects as far-reaching as marine pollution, migration, overpopulation and the planet’s great wilderness. Work from ‘Heat Maps’, the winning series by Richard Mosse, is shown for the first time in Ireland.
Mosse’s epic panoramas of refugee camps and staging sites in Europe are made using a military-grade thermographic camera designed to detect humans from their body heat from as far away as fifty kilometers, day or night. The work is sinister and objectifying, while also being deeply empathetic and strangely intimate. It provokes powerful and complex responses in the viewer.
The Prix Pictet is unique in its commitment to harnessing the power of photography to deepen our understanding of changes taking place on a global scale. Taken together the finalists’ works present a powerful testament to the fragile state of our planet.
Prix Pictet – Space features work by the twelve shortlisted photographers:
Mandy Barker [b. 1964, UK], Saskia Groneberg [b. 1985, Germany], Beate Gütschow [b. 1970, Germany], Rinko Kawauchi [b. 1972, Japan], Benny Lam [b. 1967, Hong Kong], Richard Mosse [b. 1980, Ireland], Sohei Nishino [b. 1982, Japan], Sergey Ponomarev [b. 1980, Russia], Thomas Ruff [b. 1958, Germany], Munem Wasif [b. 1983, Bangladesh], Pavel Wolberg [b. 1966, Russia], and Michael Wolf [b. 1954, Germany]