Richard Mosse's striking Heat Maps, thermal images of refugees

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Commodification of suffering, poverty and war. His images are sold for huge money to decorate the homes of the rich.

Yeah he should sell them for less or better yet no one should make them!

Refugees. A matter almost absent from the presidential debate in France. The fact just hit me, sorry for this Gallic tangent. For years the afflux of refugees has been treated as a problem in this fucking country. Angela Merkel’s standing on the matter has been framed either as courageous or irresponsible. To me, the real problem is why is there so few refugees seeking asylum in France.


By the way, if anyone of you stumble upon a French who doesn’t know who to vote for tomorrow, or whether they’ll vote at all, tell them this: according to Marine Le Pen, there’s no refugees crisis, only an afflux of illegal immigrants - Emmanuel Macron voiced that he considers it a duty to handle asylum seekers properly and humanely, which shouldn’t be considered much of a statement, but is still a world apart in the right direction.

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These images are stills from a video installation which I saw with my daughter at the Barbican in London.

It left an incredible impression on both of us. It is difficult to verbalise why or how but let me say two things:

The way the film is presented (on a huge scale with an powerful soundtrack) felt like creating a monument, a memorial to the individuals filmed as well as to the movement of people seeking refuge.

I am the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and my Mothers ancestors died without a trace. I wish people would have saved them but failing that I also wish that their lives could have been memoralised in a way Mosse seems to have succeeded to do. I much rather would remember them in Mosse’s work than the photographs of piles of emaciated corpses that has become the reference point for the extermination of the Jews.

The amount of thought, consideration, work that has gone into this artwork is owe inspiring. I cannot imagine it would have been possible without treating the subjects of the images with respect.

My second thought is more general: As someone who does not watch the news, who consciously chooses not to look at photographs of others misery (I don’t think I need to see images of someone’s loved one under rubble to imagine what living in a war zone might be) I recognise that to understand what is happening with the refugees in the Mediterran (a place I care deeply about) we need some kind of representation of this continuous tragedy.

Mosse in my experience does an amazing job of that.


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