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Richard Mosse and a desire to rewrite traumatic cultural histories

Under - Art, Inspiration, Media, Photography

Undoubtedly, some of the best short-films I’ve seen lately came from Richard Mosse. Born and grew up in Ireland he is now based in New York. Mosse studied at Yale, Goldsmiths and the London Consortium. He is driven by an ambivalence toward photography and a desire to revisit and even rewrite traumatic cultural histories.

Cast Lead

Shot in the ruins of Gaza and the West Bank, August 2009. Cast Lead, the IDF codename for the Gaza war of 2009, is a term derived from Haim Nachman Bialik’s Hannukah poem about a game played with a spinning dreidel made of lead.

Cinematography and Editing by Trevor Tweeten. Colorist and Post Production by Jerome Thelia.


In an article written several years ago, Robert Fisk referred to the wreck of a Nazi-allied Vichy French U-Boat which lies beneath the waves off the coast of Beirut. The submarine was called Le Souffleur, and was sunk in 1941 by British destroyers which had followed it up the coast from Palestine.

Souffleur was made in sixteen hours as part of the 98 weeks workshop, Beirut, September 2008.

Theatre of War

Shot in Saddam Hussein’s hilltop palace in the mountains overlooking the River Tigris, Theatre of War is a slow, virtually static video piece redolent of classical history painting. Audio was recorded at the official US military hand-over ceremony at the nearby city of Saniya. A mullah’s prayer for unity among Arabs is spoken, after which the pan-Arab national anthem, Mawtini (My Homeland) is played, emphasizing Arab national solidarity and a pan-Arab territory. Made in Iraq in March 2009.

Cinematography and Editing by Trevor Tweeten. Digital Color and Post Production by Jerome Thelia.


Leviathan was made in two discrete locations: off the coast of Phuket in Thailand and in the Hudson River off the island of Manhattan. The buckled fuselage of the US Airways disaster is hoisted by cranes from the ice floes surrounding New York in winter. Meanwhile, at the other side of the world, the wreck of an old U.S. bomber is lowered beneathe the tropical waves. These remnants of the Vietnam War are being sunk onto the seabed in order to restimulate Phuket’s lucrative dive tourism industry affected by the recent Tsunami’s destruction of the indigenous coral reef environment.

Cinematography by Trevor Tweeten. Subaqua Cinematography and Digital Color by Jerome Thelia. Sound by Martin Clarke. Editing by Ladan Anoushfar.

Untitled (Iraq) 2009

Bullet scored paraphernalia lie scattered in these dangerous wastes, evoking sculpture by Giacometti, Moore, Serra. Live and spent fire litter the surrounding landscape, creating an indelible image of the playfulness of destruction. The soundtrack invokes a roll of Iraqi place names, some of which are immediately recognizable to us through countless news dispatches from Iraqi wars.

Cinematography by Trevor Tweeten. Digital Color by Jerome Thelia.

Miami, OK, December 15th, 2010

19th December, Oklahoma City

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