When the Jack Shainman Gallery opens its new space in Tribeca on January 12, its inaugural show will be Richard Mosse’s film Broken Spectre. Filmed over four years in response to the ongoing deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest, the immersive film will be presented across a 20-meter-wide panoramic screen. The Irish-born, American-based photographer and filmmaker, who had spent decades photographing conflict zones and humanitarian disasters, had gone to Ecuador for a respite, to photograph orchids and other plants, when he read about the fires burning the Amazon basin. He flew there with his cinematographer, Trevor Tweeten, and began researching and filming. “Seventy-five percent of the entire Amazon is so degraded by processes of deforestation that we’re now very close to the point where there’s an automatic dieback, and the forest can’t generate its own rain,” Mosse told the New York Times. “So it stops being rainforest. Once that happens, it turns quite quickly to savanna.”
Richard Mosse answered five questions from photograph.
Name a photograph that brings you joy.
When I hear the word “joy,” I can only think of Judith Joy Ross. So many of her photographs have brought me joy, especially Mona Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania (1996). I left her recent exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum [which closed in August] so moved that I decided that if I ever had a daughter, I would name her Judith Joy Mosse.
Without doubt, it is First Flight by Dawn Kim (Outlaw Books, 2017). This is an extremely rare book that gracefully reveals the simple wonder of photography, thoughtfully entering people’s lives and dreams with humility and awe.
Last exhibition you saw?
Elle Pérez at 47 Canal [guabancex, on view earlier this fall]. I found myself deeply absorbed in the work, walking back and forth between image and scrap board, visual instants and intellectual drifts. Pérez is an artist who is deeply engaged with the medium of photography. I left the show refreshed and encouraged.
Favorite work of art that’s not a photograph?
Ulysses by James Joyce. I studied the book extensively in my undergraduate years in London, where it was a haven for me, and it stayed close to me in my life. It’s closer than ever today as a good friend, the extraordinary photographer, cinematographer, and Dubliner, Ross McDonnell, was recently claimed by the sea. I have struggled greatly with his loss but have found solace in Ulysses.
Name a photographer who’s influenced you.
The list is long – Paul Graham, Thomas Struth, An-My Lê, to begin to name a few – but the person who has entirely changed my life is Tod Papageorge, my mentor at Yale. I believe Tod has changed the lives of many photographers over the years, and that is worth acknowledging and celebrating, alongside his legendary photographic prowess.