A plane crash, like any disaster, is a moment of contingency and confusion. Large aircraft are reduced to virtually nothing in a matter of seconds. The disaster itself cannot be seen beneath a thick cloud of black smoke, leaving no trace other than the visceral scent of aviation fuel, burnt foliage, and death.
Yet the air disaster exists in our cultural imagination as spectacle. An airliner in vertical descent is a symbol of modernity’s failure. This is why air transport is highly prized by the terrorist. It is a mainline to human fear, something horrifying but also aesthetically powerful and symbolic of unstoppable globalization.
The hyper-functional, pared down forms in Mosse’s photographs speak of mass anxiety, routine submission to terrible fear, as well as our desire to see, to experience an air disaster. Charred and phallic, these are monuments built to our own fear. They are built not to assuage our fear, but to make it concrete, to articulate our worst nightmares, so that we may ritualize our helplessness.
These provisional structures bear an uncanny resemblance to Minimal sculptural form, but one that has been designed automatically. As life-size replicas of the air disaster, their toy-like nature is made formidable and sublime. The work locates a ‘big toys for big boys’ philosophy on the map of disaster politics. These are anonymous sculptures which speak unselfconsciously about our ambivalence to terror, their phallic form baldly revealing our unconscious desire for disaster.