Richard Mosse, Idomeni Camp, Greek-Macedonia Border, 2016. Digital chromogenic color print on metallic paper. 40 × 120 inches (101.6 × 304.8 cm). Acquired through the generosity of Kristen and Kent Lucken. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. © Richard Mosse
Richard Mosse’s body of work is known for its varied uses of technical tools as well as its ability to wrestle with political and ethical issues. He employs uncommon photographic technologies, such as infrared film and military surveillance devices, to revise and challenge documentary forms. His major video installation, Incoming was part of the ICA’s traveling exhibition When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art, which opened in Boston in fall 2019.
Idomeni Camp, Greek-Macedonia Border is part of Mosse’s Heat Maps, a series of black-and-white panoramic photographs of refugee travel routes and encampments. This panorama features a refugee camp between the borders of Greece and North Macedonia built by migrants fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. To create these panoramas, Mosse stitches together hundreds of images captured through a midwave infrared camera, a military surveillance and tracking technology that registers contours in heat from up to eighteen miles away. His subversion of this technology produces crisp and detailed images of grayed landscapes populated by ghostly figures and scarce heat sources, emphasizing the harsh conditions of the camps while foregrounding the refugees’ universal human need for warmth. “My intention is not didactic,” says Mosse when describing the photojournalistic engagement of his work. “It is about compassion, which derives from the words ‘to suffer with.’ To feel the pain felt by another.” Mosse’s otherworldly images underscore the crisis of displacement and ask viewers to confront the humanity of refugees.