After fifty summers, the wrecked aircraft’s ultra-modern form becomes a part of the primeval landscape. Its shattered carapace lies scorched by the sun and scoured by extreme winters. Redolent of science fiction, these Futurist antiques have been partially cannibalized, their unwanted buckled shell listing in the mountain gales. American and Japanese automobiles lie scattered in the dangerous wastes of central Iraq. Ephemeral relics, shot to a skein of rusting metal, tremble delicately in the abrasive dust storm. Like Saddam Hussein's shattered hilltop palace, these are the follies of globalized forgetting.
Around the time that Thoreau pegged the idea of wilderness as a cultural construct, the new technology of photography was gaining weight as a tool of Empire. This was the era of the photographic survey. Teams embarked with view cameras and mobile darkrooms to chart and document remote territories. Seemingly neutral in intent, the photographic survey was anything but. Surveyors often worked as part of a military unit, such as the British team who took part in the Abyssinian Campaign of 1867-68. This was in fact a rescue mission, but the corps of Royal Engineers produced 1,500 landscape photographs during the expedition. This was a valuable document of Abyssinia at that time, as well as being an apparatus of colonization and propaganda.
The Fall is a photographic survey of our historic unconscious. Mosse travelled to intensely remote locations, from the Patagonian Andes to the Yukon Territories, and worked as an embed with the US military to produce work for this exhibition. The Fall is a rescue mission to try to locate our blasted sense of landscape and archeology, and reclaim the primeval waste for our imagination. Produced to an epic scale, each of the photographs in The Fall is a history painting for our times.