Heat Maps, Richard Mosse's photography

Richard Mosse Heat Maps

Idomeni, digital chromogenic metallic print, 2016.

Today it is not the city but rather the camp that is the fundamental biopolitical paradigm of the West.
Giorgio Agamben

Moria, 2016.

Bautzen, 2016.

Helliniko Olympic Arena, 2016.

Larissa, 2016.

Moria grid, 2016.

Moria in snow, 2016.

Skaramaghas, 2016.

Tempelhof Interior, 2016.

Ventimiglia, 2016.

Artist's Statement

Richard Mosse’s new body of work, Heat Maps, attempts to foreground the biopolitical aspects of the refugee and migration situation now facing Europe, the Middle East and north Africa. The project maps refugee camps and other staging sites using an extreme tele military grade thermographic camera that was designed to detect and identify subjects from as far away as fifty kilometers, day or night.

The camera itself is export controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations — it is regarded as a component in advanced weapons systems and embargoed as such — as well as being designed for border surveillance and regulation. It can be seen as a technology of governance, a key tool in what Foucault and Agamben have described as biopower.

The camera translates the world into a heat signature of relative temperature difference, literally reading the biological trace of human life, imperceptive to skin colour. Instead of individuals, it sees the mass — in Foucault’s words, massifying, that is directed not as man-as-body, but as man-as-species. It elicits a sinister and invasive form of imagery, but also occasionally intimate, tending to both dehumanize and then rehumanize the “bare life” (Agamben) of the human figure of the stateless refugee and illegal economic migrant, which the camera was specifically designed to detect, monitor, and police.

These images attempt to offer a way of thinking through the ways in which biology and politics have become indistinguishable in the contemporary era, especially in relation to immigration, borders, climate change, free trade, and the camps and liminal spaces where tens of millions of refugees and migrants currently find themselves in limbo, excluded from participating or contributing to our modern societies.

About the photographer


1980, Ireland



Based in

New York City and Ireland

About Richard Mosse

Mosse earned an MFA in Photography from Yale University in 2008. Mosse has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art, MCA Chicago, Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Kemper Museum, Bass Museum, Palazzo Strozzi, Musee d’Art Contemporain Montreal, The Nasher Museum, Kunsthaus Graz, Palais de Tokyo, UNSW Sydney, FOAM Amsterdam, The Photographer’s Gallery London, FOMU Antwerp, Contact Photo Festival Toronto, 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum Shanghai, Kunsthalle Munich, Akademie der Kuenste Berlin, Portland Art Museum, Salaam Kivu International Film Festival Goma DRC, and others. Mosse is a recipient of the Deutsche Boerse Photography Prize (2014), Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism (2014), the B3 Award at the Frankfurt Biennale (2013), an ECAS Commission (2013), Visual Arts Bursary from the Irish Arts Council (2012), Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien Residency (2012), the Guggenheim Fellowship (2011), and a Leonore Annenberg Fellowship (2008-2010). His first book, Infra, was published by Aperture in 2012. The Enclave, was published by in 2013. Mosse’s new body of work, concerned with the journey of refugees and migrants across Europe, the Middle East and north Africa, has been commissioned by the Barbican Art Gallery and NGV Melbourne. This work will be exhibited in a solo show at the Barbican’s Curve gallery in Feb 2017, and in the NGV Triennial in Autumn 2017. Mack Books are publishing the monograph.