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Love is the Drug (work of art)

Artwork Info

Richard Mosse
Born 1980-
50 x 96 inches (127 x 243.8 centimeters)


Purchased with funds from the Art Trust Fund Endowment

Object Number

Key Ideas

  • Love is the Drug is part of a three-year documentary film and photography project about the ongoing conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Photographer Richard Mosse and his film crew followed armed rebel groups in the DRC to capture these images. 
  • Documentary photography is used to realistically document places, people, and events. Mosse’s documentary photography explores the direct and indirect effects of war. 
  • This photograph was shot with color infrared film, which changes green plants and trees to bright shades of pink and red. Infrared film was first used by military surveillance teams to detect camouflage from the sky. 

Learn More

At first glance this photograph appears to be an unreal, vibrantly colored paradise. In reality it is a landscape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For decades this area has been the center of tribal conflict and seemingly endless warfare. 

Love is the Drug is part of a three-year documentary project by photographer Richard Mosse titled The Enclave. It focuses on the DRC, where Mosse and his film crew followed armed rebel groups and documented their surroundings as a film and a series of photographs. Mosse’s goal was to depict the ongoing conflict and the cycle of violence occurring in this region. 

Mosse is a documentary photographer. Documentary photography is used to document important events in history as well as everyday life. Artists have used documentary photography as a tool for social change throughout history. It can be used to bring attention to injustices and inequality in society. It is also used in news reporting, to provide an accurate visual record of events. Mosse uses his work to document the direct and indirect effects of war.

…I was trying to represent something that is tragically real—an entrenched and endless conflict fought in a jungle by nomadic rebels of constantly shifting allegiances.

Richard Mosse

Mosse used Kodak Aerochrome infrared film to create his landscape photographs. The film records an invisible spectrum of light and translates every shade of green into shades of pink and red. The film has been used by map makers, scientists, and archaeologists to study landscapes. It was originally created to help aerial military surveillance teams detect camouflage on the ground.

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  • A photograph of a mountain landscape with a river running through the middle. The sky is colorless and foggy, and all of the plants and trees are bright red and pink.

    Love is the Drug