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Open Eye Study Visit

Colonel Soleil’s Boys, 2010 © Richard Mosse. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY
General Février, 2010 © Richard Mosse. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY
Two photographs which stimulated an enormous amount of debate at Friday’s study visit to the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool yesterday. Personally, I think Richard Mosse’s adoption of infrared film ‘works’ – it slows you down and puzzles me with its multiple paradoxes. An obsolete, but previously high-tech film developed for war from the air used to picture scenes from a land seared by brutal face to face massacre and mutilation. The epitome of machismo, the been there, seen it, done it foot soldier rendered in startling Barbie pink.
However, for a study visit to be worthwhile, it doesn’t matter whether I think the approach works, provided there are differences in views and a willingness to engage in debate. And that is what Peter Haveland and I had the pleasure of being part of on Friday.
Rob Brisco didn’t like the Richard Mosse work and is articulate in setting out his thoughts, so enough from me and over to him. It will be interesting to see what others made of the visit.

Posted by author: Genevieve Sioka
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11 thoughts on “Open Eye Study Visit

  • Something else that has come to me yesterday, even though it didn’t make the blog or the discussions was a kind of likeness to the work of Luc Delaheye. I don’t mean with the pinks or anything, but in that he has chosen to display conflict as art, and has also picked up some form of gimmick – Mosse used this film, Delaheye a panoramic camera. Both approaches are, I believe, pretty unique, certainly within the more well known photographers out there…
    Thanks for the coffee and I’m really looking forward to Ballen in Manchester now.

  • I was intrigued by the comparison of Mosse’s and Norfolk’s work. The time separation (more than 15 years) was, to me, evident in the different methods of working. Norfolk making either an ironic or at least a knowing reference to the high modernist ‘fine print’ tradition. Almost producing Adams like images which were in stark contrast to the content and on the other hand Mosse using a very knowing and ironic approach by using a medium known to be developed and used by the military as a surveillance medium to seek out that which is invisible to the naked eye, to image a war zone to reveal that which may not be immediately obvious to the viewer. Both using the process, not as an end in itself but as a means to an end and both making the viewer work for their living!
    I would congratulate the assembled students on the quality of the debate, most thoughtful and stimulating.

  • Firstly thanks for the Study Visit, it was my first and it was interesting to meet other students and hear their views.
    Personally I came away somewhat disappointed, not from the the study visit or Mosse’s photographs, some of which I thought were simply amazing. My personal thoughts were that there was not enough shown to do justice to his project, something that seems a shame as flicking through his book I felt any narrative was lost by displaying only a dozen uncaptioned images, which again is not really Open Eye’s fault either as they are limited by lack of space.
    Maybe as a new student I just missed the point, I have written more about it on my blog as I think it’s probably better to restrict my ramblings to there. If you have a spare ten minutes I would welcome your thoughts. Jim

    • Hi Jim
      I consider your questioning of the exhibition to be a valid part of the study day which I did not attend and so can not really respond to your experience of the visit. Other study day visits have have provoked similar reactions in regard to the paucity of the work on show; the fact is that often the entire body of work can not be shown for reasons of space or finance.
      I think one needs to realise that a gallery exhibition and a book are completely different forms of expression. The book can be more comprehensive perhaps but a gallery exhibition even with only a few photos can make one aware of the subject in a much more dynamic way as evident in your response to one photo which is shown on your blog. (Excuse me asking but did you have to ask for permission to use that image by the way or have you just taken it?)
      On study visits, one is often encouraged to look at the way the exhibition has been set up. The sequence may vary from the book, some photographs may be placed in particular parts of the room for effect, there may be an attempt to contrast one photograph with another and so on.
      Anyway, I do not think you should be experiencing any kind of remorse about your querying the event; it is surely what these days are about since in a group one can discuss, alone one might be bowled over and leave none the wiser.

      • Hi Amano, thanks for your comments, I have over the last week thought a lot about this exhibition and how it was laid out, in particular comparing the selection of images on display in Liverpool compared to the much larger display at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York (who, to answer your question have given me written permission to reproduce that image (and another that I didn’t use)). I will most likely take another look at the exhibition as it is local to me, and see if I feel any different before it finishes.

      • By the way Jim, on your blog you write …
        “It is perhaps a sad reflection on our times that the media has desensitised us to pain and suffering caused by disaster and conflict unless it happens on our own doorstep.”
        I have heard this view a number of times on We are OCA. Susan Sontag in her book On Regarding the Pain of Others seems to be questioning this assertion; what such images do is leave us with a sense of powerlessness.
        I was wondering if the image on your blog is being beamed via a link of some kind. It is often possible tp approach a photographer via email and ask them for permission; the chances are, in the experience of some students, that the photographer will respond positively. As a photographer, I find myself photographing the gallery space quite often with people included as well as images.

        • quote “It is often possible tp approach a photographer via email and ask them for permission”
          I contacted the Jack Shainman Gallery who represent Richard Mosse and they kindly provided me with two hi-res copies of the images that I was interested in. I quite agree with you comment though, I have had some interesting email correspondence with artist/photographers when I have contacted them to request usage of their work both personally and through my work where I quite often have to deal with the minefield that is international copyright law. An interesting point to consider in this particular case is that copyright is held in the US and so US laws apply. Title 17 section 107 covers fair use for such things as criticism, comment and general educational use (you can get a copy at if you are interested), but use could also be allowed under the Creative Commons Licence. Irrespective of this I always find it a common courtesy to ask for permission.

    • I found your ramblings really interesting to read Jim, i often have similar kinds of thoughts to yours. Personally I am quite distrustful of people who are able to form fixed opinions very quickly as in my limited experience art don’t work that way!

  • Just noticed that Jimmy Hendrix’s “Are you experienced” album cover looks like it was shot with the same aerochrome film – psychedelic!

  • Assuming that you mean the US cover I believe that you are right, certainly it was shot by Karl Ferris on some sort of false colour infra red film on a Nikon with a fish eye lens.

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