It’s Just a Feckin’ Colour

Stumbling into The Enclave it takes a moment for your eyes to adjust, first to the dark, then to the layout, and then there’s the pink.  Elsa Schiaparelli would have called it “shocking”.  As a surrealist fashion designer working between the two world wars, this lurid shade was to become her signature colour.  Richard Mosse describes it as: “Ludicrously palleted bubblegum pink.” Elsa Schiaparelli described it as: “Life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world put together, a colour of China and Peru but not of the West.”  And in this instance a colour of the Congo, beautiful, life-giving, but violent in it’s assertion of dominance over the landscape and people.  But it is this beauty which Richard Mosse describes as “the sharpest tool in the box.”  Not only does in create a conflict for the viewer between horror and awe, but it highlights the limitations of photography and film as a documentary medium, the images we see are always heavily edited, selected, and often the real story goes on behind the scenes. “People are so offended by the colour pink,” Richard jokes, “It’s just a feckin’ colour.”  But how differently we would react if the images were black and white, or colour.  We associate black and white with “truth with a capital T” and yet pink highlights this inherent fallacy. Continue reading

Advertisements