An uneasy fascination with air disaster manifests itself in much of Irish photographer Richard Mosse’s work. In 2007 he created a series of powerful images of air disaster simulators ablaze, and more recently he has travelled to far-flung parts of the planet photographing the wreckage of crashed plans which, left to stand where they fell, have become rusted ruins in the landscape. Fascinated by “the ways in which we perceive and consume catastrophe”, Mosse has also produced work whilst embedded with US troops in Baghdad, documenting the scarred remains of the city. But it’s the aircraft series which is the most novel and interesting, exploring how we deal with disaster and attempt to avert it, or how we live with the consequences. As he says, “actual disaster is a moment of contingency and confusion. It's all over in milliseconds. It's hidden in a thick cloud of black smoke and you cannot even see it. But the catastrophe lives on before the fact and after the fact, as this spectacle. That's why I wanted to photograph the air disaster simulators; they are the air disaster more than the thing itself. We have built in our airports these enormous, absurd, phallic structures with kerosene jets and water sprinklers. They are monuments to our own fear, made within the pared down, hyper-functional, green and black and grey symbolic order of militarized space”
Shooting on a large-format field camera, Fosse is forced close to the wrecks and simulators, capturing these strange forms in vivid detail, finding a strange beauty which has resulted from destruction. The work is as much about the context as the objects themselves, and Fosse shows the work as large gallery-scale prints, making the photographs much more than traditional documentary work.
Untitled, from the Airside series, 2007