Tracey Moffatt, commissioned by Australia Council for the Arts
The Australian pavilion will be dedicated to photographer Tracey Moffatt. She is one of Australia’s most successful artists and creates highly stylized narratives and montages to explore a range of themes. These themes include the complexities of interpersonal relationships, the curiousness of popular culture, and her own deeply felt childhood memories and fantasies.
Her exhibition ‘My Horizon’ will comprise all new work with two major large-scale photographic series and two video works. It explores journeys – both legal and illegal – and alludes to issues of race and gender, sexuality, desire, identity, and human connection and estrangement. The horizon refers to the far and distant future or the unobtainable. There are times in life when we all can see what is ‘coming over the horizon’. This is when we make a move. Or we do nothing and just wait for whatever it is to arrive. You can expect an open, expansive and personal story, which references film, art and the epic history of photography, as well as aspects of her family history.
The picture below, called ‘Hell’, is the only work which has already been released prior to the opening of the Art Biennale. It is set in a mysterious dockland and portraits a mother, a motorcycle police officer and a sharply dressed character whom the artist calls ‘the middleman’. I find it very intriguing and I can’t get it out of my mind. It stirs your imagination. I certainly look forward to discover her other photographs and I’ll make sure to plan enough time in the Australian pavilion.
The exhibition will be accompanied by the book ‘Tracey Moffatt: My Horizon’, which is edited by curator Natalie King. This is the first time an artist representing Australia at the Venice Biennale will have a globally distributed accompanying publication.
“Venice is a tantalizing, labyrinthine and confounding city. Tracey Moffatt and I have both read Donna Leon’s My Venice and Other Essays, a collection of funny, charming and passionate essays on aspects of Venice ranging from garbage in the canals, her love of opera and the Italian male.
Tracey is able to conjure up images from her personal history and her imagination in making two new photographic series and filmic videos for the Venice Biennale under the overarching title My Horizon which will be presented in the glorious Giardini. Tracey is a storyteller and her new photo fictions are operatic and incendiary—perfect for the setting of Venice.”
Natalie King, curator
Born in Brisbane in 1960, Tracey Moffatt studied visual communications at the Queensland College of Art, from which she graduated in 1982. Since her first solo exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney in 1989, Moffatt has exhibited extensively in museums and at Biennales all over the world. She first gained significant critical acclaim when her short film Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy was selected for official competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. In 1997, she was invited to exhibit in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale. In 2016, Christine Macel, the curator of the 2017 Art Biennale, curated Moffatt’s montage film Love in Prospectif Cinéma at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Moffatt was the recipient of the 2007 Infinity Award for Art by the International Center of Photography, New York honouring her outstanding achievement in the field of photography. In 2016 Moffatt was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the visual and performing arts as a photographer and filmmaker, and as a mentor and supporter of, and role model for Indigenous artists.
“I have taken my camera into unknown locations and created photodramas, using models, actors and people I find on the street. My stories meld fiction, fact and some aspects of my family history but I have wanted to extend my filmic narratives into imaginary realms. The horizon line encapsulated in the title MY HORIZON can represent a yearning for escape to another place.”
It is only the second time that the current Australian pavilion will host the Art Biennale. As it’s the most recent pavilion (2015) in Giardini, it has a totally different style compared to the other pavilions. The black box next to the canal has been designed by the architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall. Some of the panels fold open to indicate that an exhibition is ongoing, and to allow natural light inside.
The former pavilion was designed by Philip Cox and was opened in 1988. At that time, the Italian-born Australian industrialist Franco Belgiorno-Nettis had lobbied so successfully that Australia beat 16 other countries for the last available site in Giardini. The temporary structure could be built quickly and easily dismantled. The pavilion has been transported back to Australia where it will be reconstructed.
Viva Arte Viva
Australia will also be represented at the ‘Viva Arte Viva exhibition’ of Christine Macel by Adam Nankervis, as part of the ‘Mondrian Fan Club’ together with David Medalla. They have been performing specific actions related to the biography and legacy of Piet Mondriaan since the early 1990’s. Adam Nankervis is an artist and curator who has infused social, conceptual and experimental practice in his lived in nomadic museum, museum MAN. His immersion into the experimentation of social sculptural forms and aesthetic collisions are a trademark of his art.
Tracey Moffatt will participate in the ‘Tavola Aperta’ (Open Table) project where artists and visitors will have a casual lunch together to discuss the artist’s work. You can attend this lunch on September 13 next to the central pavilion in Giardini. Reservations are required. She has also created a video for the ‘Artists Practices Project’.
Review by The Venice Insider
The Australian pavilion lures you inside with images shown on large screens on the outside of the building. Once inside, you can admire 2 photo series and 2 videos of Tracey Moffatt. Passage, the first series of pictures conveys a very special atmosphere, almost like in a western movie. I loved the scenery on the images and found it very intriguing and extremely beautiful. The colour scheme and the lighting is really amazing. It took me a while to figure out whether the light came from a lightbox or from the ceiling. There are also two pictures which are almost identical, but with different colours and one person in a different position. This makes them look like standstills of a movie.
The second series of pictures, Body Remembers, portraits one woman and her shadow in different locations. I love how the shadow transforms the structure of the walls into her dress. This series is more melancholic but also very appealing. I didn’t know the work of Tracey Moffatt prior to the Biennale, but I will certainly follow her in the future. I can easily imagine these pictures hanging in my living room. The Australian pavilion is one of my favourites and is therefore one of the 8 pavilions you cannot miss at the Art Biennale 2017.
Katia – The Venice Insider
If you want to know more about the Art Biennale 2017 and the other national participations, this overview page is a good starting point or you can read my post ‘What to expect from the Art Biennale 2017’. If you want to be informed about new pavilions being added to the site, you can subscribe to The Venice Insider biweekly newsletter.
(Picture in banner: Australian pavilion entry – All images by John Gollings. Courtesy of the Australia Council for the Arts)
SHARE THIS POST WITH YOUR FRIENDS ON