Richard Frater’s installation April offers an allegory of sorts for the the ways by which images might become politicized sites of conflict, while embodying near identical ideologies. His starting point is the 1985 bomb- ing of Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior within New Zealand’s territorial waters, by French secret service agents. The bombing killed photojournalist and Greenpeace activist Fernando Pereira, who stayed on board to retrieve his camera equipment, and drowned after a second explosion sunk the vessel. Years later, in 2014, Commander Alain Mafart of the French secret service, freed after serving less than a third of his ten- year prison sentence, has become a nature photographer. In a strange turn of events, an image by former agent Mafart—a pastoral portrait of Nambian giraffes and zebras quenching their thirst—is selected to stand for the month of April in the organization’s yearly calendar. Frater dissects the ensuing drama. The photographers are eerily absent from the installation, represented by a sculptural prosthetic, their presumed opposing ideo- logical alliances neutralized by the symmetry of their aesthetic sensibility.
Above: Richard Frater: April, 2015/17, Installation view Heidelberger Kunstverein 2017. Photo: Lis Y Seng
Right: Richard Frater: April, 2015 /17, Modified Greenpeace Standing-up-for-the-Earth calendar, waterjet cut Canon camera body, stainless steel tube, Courtesy Richard Frater