A Vicious Conflict through the Lens of Fine Art

In the International Relations course offered here at Champlain Abroad Dublin, we study several different themes including the relationships among countries, the role of sovereign states, and the influence of organizations and corporations on global policy. Our professor Seamus White draws numerous materials from fields ranging from economics, international law, cultural studies and many others. We are constantly discussing different current events from all around the world to gain a better understanding of what actually goes on outside of our own home country.

One of the international matters we recently focused on was the conflict in The Democratic Republic of Congo known as Africa’s first world war. This is a highly over-looked situation that has led to the loss of more than 5 million lives between 1994 and 2003, but continues to face much violence with the presence of multiple groups still operating. The DR Congo holds a lot of wealth in natural resources particularly valuable minerals such as diamonds, gold, and coltan, which are highly sought after by developed nations for luxury and technology. Unfortunately, this wealth in resources has almost never been used for the benefit of the people that live there and severely hinders their human rights in many ways.

Last week, we took the opportunity to visit the Art Gallery Royal Hibernian Academy to view The Enclave, an exhibit featuring a multi-media installation about the on-going conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Irish director and producer Richard Mosse found significance in the problems of a horrific cycle of war and violence in eastern Congo. Stunned by the lack of evidence of a war going on within the landscape, Mosse documented rebel enclaves and areas where human rights are heavily violated in very unique way. He used infrared film once used by the military to detect camouflage to create an aesthetic medium on his photos and film that gave off a distorted and psychedelic image of the jungle war-zone with shades of magenta and lavender. The Enclave comprises six monumental double-sided screens installed in a large dark room creating a physically immersive encounter. The film reveals much of the rebel violence and profound human suffering from many different angles and includes an audio arrangement of completely real field recordings.

Conor McCarthy
Champlain Abroad Dublin Spring’14

This learning experience distinctively connects eastern Congo’s conflict with photojournalism and video art. Although we did not learn about this international situation through the standard textbook or lecture format, we were able to gain a much stronger understanding first hand through visual art. 

Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring’14

Champlain College, Business/Event Managment’15

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