Tracey Moffatt’s Montages: The Final Cut, 1999-2015

Some of you are no doubt familiar with artist Tracey Moffatt’s stunningly evocative photography and film work from way back in the 90s. She received significant critical acclaim for her short film Night Cries which was selected for official competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival – the imagery from that film and accompanying stills is burnt into our collective memory.

TRACY MOFFATT AND GARRY HILBERG, OTHER, 2010 (STILL). 7 MINUTES, LOOPED VIDEO, SOUND. COURTESY THE ARTIST, ROSLYN OXLEY9 GALLERY AND TYLER ROLLINS FINE ART, NEW YORK

TRACY MOFFATT AND GARRY HILBERG, OTHER, 2010 (STILL). 7 MINUTES, LOOPED VIDEO, SOUND. COURTESY THE ARTIST, ROSLYN OXLEY9 GALLERY AND TYLER ROLLINS FINE ART, NEW YORK

TRACY MOFFATT AND GARRY HILBERG, LOVE, 2003 (STILL). 21 MINUTES, LOOPED VIDEO, SOUND. COURTESY THE ARTIST, ROSLYN OXLEY9 GALLERY AND TYLER ROLLINS FINE ART, NEW YORK

TRACY MOFFATT AND GARRY HILBERG, LOVE, 2003 (STILL). 21 MINUTES, LOOPED VIDEO, SOUND. COURTESY THE ARTIST, ROSLYN OXLEY9 GALLERY AND TYLER ROLLINS FINE ART, NEW YORK

Video still from the work Lip

Video still from the work Lip

Video still from the work Other

Video still from the work Other

 

Her first feature film, beDevil, was also selected for Cannes in 1993 and in 1997 she was invited to exhibit in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale. A major exhibition of Moffatt’s work was later held at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York in 1997–1998, consolidating her international reputation.

She is probably Australia’s most successful artist ever, both nationally and internationally, and is certainly one of the few Australian artists to have established a global market for her work. She was again representing Australia at the Venice Biennale in 2017.

Moffatt uses a combination of film, video and photography to dismantle conventions of storytelling in a vividly Australian context, drawing on her own life experiences to explore issues of gender, race, sexuality and identity. Using a deliberately stylised artifice that references the history of art and photography, Moffatt’s body of work nevertheless transcends the specificities of Australian suburban living and the harshness of life in the outback, to communicate meanings of universal significance – reflected in her established international reputation.

So, we were beyond excited to see this solo survey exhibition featuring her eight video montage works travelling Australia’s regional galleries between 2017 and June this year (19 galleries in all). The same exhibition also opened last year at The Bass in Miami.

Tracey Moffatt’s Montages: The Full Cut, 1999-2015 created in collaboration with editor Gary Hillberg are a suite of eight montage films spanning 16 years of the artist and editor’s collaborative practice. So, if you’ve been wondering what Moffatt has been up to this past decade or so, this is what!

This inventive exhibition is an ode to cinema and to the cinematic form, offering unprecedented insight into the stereotypes that populate our collective cultural imagination. In this suite of montages (short films) Moffatt (who is Aboriginal and grew up in 60s Brisbane) and Hillberg source footage from Hollywood films, tapping into the humour and pathos of universally shared subjects like art, revolution, love, racism and destruction.

The film compilation surveys the nature of representation and genres of cinema with the video works deconstructing stereotypes within Hollywood films and television, creating new narratives and character conventions. For us, the films are more art than film in the conventional sense, they are an incredibly powerful watch, utterly mesmerising and a great little foray away from Netflix in lockdown.

The films are; Lip (1999), Artist (2000), Love (2003), Doomed (2007), Revolution (2008), Mother (2009), Other (2009), and The Art (2015). If you happened to see artist Christian Marclay’s The Clock a few years back at the MCA, you will have some idea of how this edited genre work is presented through the lens of popular culture.

Anyway, it’s hard to explain so take the dive! Each film is between seven and 24 minutes in length.

You can watch Lip and other here via Roslyn Oxley
You can watch Other here You can watch Love here.
If you are interested in taking a dive back into Night Cries, Moffatt’s earlier short with production design by Stephen Curtis, you can watch here. Or check out more of her brilliantly evocative photographic work here.

Moffatt’s work is held in major collections across Australia including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, National Portrait Gallery and Queensland Art Gallery. Internationally, her work is held at institutions across the USA including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; at the Tate, London, as well as public and private collections across Europe and Asia. She was the recipient of the 2007 Infinity Award for Art by the International Centre of Photography, New York.

She is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.


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Words: Jennine Primmer