Richard Mosse | Broken Spectre

Published 8 March 2023

Written By Joel Benichou

Moving Image Artwork by Richard Mosse - Shown at the NGV

Irish artist Richard Mosse’s world-premiere moving image work, Broken Spectre, is a powerful response to the devastating and ongoing impact of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. Filmed over three years in remote parts of the Amazon Rainforest, Broken Spectre is presented across an immersive 20-metre widescreen panorama, utilising different visually arresting strategies to depict the unfolding crisis; each shifting in scale and focus to convey these urgent environmental fault lines more powerfully.

Piercing vision by satellite cameras show the destruction’s scale and organisation, interspersed by images showing the vibrant matter of interdependent rainforest biome. Environmental frontlines are depicted through the iconography of the Western film genre, transporting the viewer to burning tracts of tropical rainforest.

Broken Spectre is an uncompromising – and often moving – examination of one of the most pressing environmental concerns and prompts viewers to reflect upon the impact and scale of this complex global issue. The film presents a phasing of ecological narratives that shifts wavelengths across environmental, anthropocentric, and nonhuman violence, to articulate different fronts of destruction at play in the Amazon.

Time itself is a crucial part of this catastrophe, as mass deforestation began in earnest in the early 1970s when the Trans-Amazonian Highway (Rodovia Transamazônica), was built to open the primeval forest for development. Only a few generations later, this development has destroyed one fifth of the Amazon rainforest to make way for the cattle, soybean, and mining industries.

Broken Spectre is co-commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIA Art Fund, the Westridge Foundation, and by the Serpentine Galleries. Additional support provided by Collection SVPL and Jack Shainman Gallery.

Richard Mosse has been awarded a 2022 residency with Arts at CERN with the support of Didier and Martine Primat Foundation and its special fund Odonata, Geneva.

We offer deep respect to the traditional custodians of this land and honour their ancestors who have nurtured and cared for this country for thousands of years. We pay homage to the living cultures, languages, and knowledge systems of the Noongar, Wurundjeri and all Indigenous Australian peoples.