The Enclave

Yesterday I was in the photo collection at the Portland Art Museum looking at some pieces and I heard some noise. I wondered what in the world the sound was and deduced that it might be protestors outside yelling. I looked out the window in the hallway and didn’t see anything so I made my way up to the next level.

I saw that this is where Richard Mosse’s The Enclave was installed. That is what I was hearing from the floor below.

As I wandered around the museum I saw posters for The Enclave. The posters piqued my interest and I wanted to be sure to take a peek before I left for the day (I had no idea what it was, except that it was photography of some sort). When I finally made my way up to the top of the museum  I found  myself in a dark hallway. I literally had to feel and fumble my way inside. I walked in and was greeted with a screen that was flashing light.  I saw that there were several screens and they were each showing different things, but they all had this very surreal coloring, lots of pink, red, and purples.

I walked in and sat down on the floor and my mind was blown for the next 40 minutes.

I was mesmerized. The art installation is a documentary of sorts. Here is the description from P.A.M’s website:

The Enclave was produced using a recently discontinued military film technology originally designed in World War II to reveal camouflaged installations hidden in the landscape. This film registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, rendering the green landscape in vivid hues of lavender, crimson, and hot pink. On the threshold of the medium’s extinction, Mosse employed this film to document an ongoing conflict situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

He used the now discontinued film, Aerochrome, which rendered the landscape in hot pink. So you are watching horrific things on the screen but it is also very surreal because of the color. This is just one aspect of the piece that made it so mesmerizing. It was very powerful. It affected me on a gut level. It is hard to intellectualize it or describe it.

I love art that affects me in that way. I will be thinking about this for a very long time.

At one point two women walked in with two little girls. They were chatting loudly and unaware that there where stunned people lining the walls of the room watching what was happening on the screens. The girls skipped to the center of the room where there were three screens. They stood in front of the screens while mom snapped pictures with her iphone of them. I thought, “I just saw a dead body on the screen. What is going to happen when a dead body shows up on the screen? What are these women going to do?!?” These people and their utter disregard for what they walked into added to the surreal effect of the experience for me. It almost felt like they were a part of the art installation.

The Enclave will be at the Portland Art Museum until February 15th 2015.

You should go see it.

You can see some of Mosse’s still photography from The Congo here.

Since I am doing my 1 second everyday project, and I wanted this to be my 1 second of yesterday, here are some snippets of what I saw. It really doesn’t do it any justice at all. You have to go experience for yourself.

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