Occupation: Photographer, Filmmaker, Video Artist
Movement: Contemporary Art
Specialty: Photography, Contemporary Art
“Night Cries,” 1990
“Scarred for Life,” 1994
“Up in the Sky,” 1997
Australian artist Tracey Moffatt is a globally recognized name as a photographer and filmmaker. Her pictures are often described as “moving images” for their fluidity and realism. She has been selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale 2017.
Early Years and Education
Tracey Moffatt was born to Daphne Moffatt, of Aboriginal origin, in Brisbane. Her mother gave over Tracey and her three siblings to Millicent “Peg” Davidson for fostering, as she herself wasn’t ready to raise them herself. The agreement was a mutual one, and it was not an unhappy arrangement. Millicent was of Irish descent, and she looked after a large number of children in her home. Daphne would visit frequently, and as a result Tracey grew up in a multicultural world, with her mother’s Aboriginal influences as well as her foster mother’s Irish-Australian ones.
She was thought of as odd by her classmates at school as she spent most of her time reading, daydreaming and inventing stories. Through her teenage years, she read and watched films obsessively whenever she had a break from schoolwork and looking after her many siblings. It was during these years that her interest in art became more and more pronounced. She saved money, and after completing high school, left for Europe for nine months, backpacking around the continent, an event she described as wonderful.
Beginnings in Art
Upon her return to Australia, Tracey enrolled at the Queensland College of Art to study Visual Communications in 1980. She received her degree two years later. Her early work often focused on the issues of Aboriginal people, and how they dealt with the questions of identity that arise in multicultural spaces in the modern world.
Tracey moved to Sydney soon after finishing at university. She had her first solo show at the Australian Centre for Photography in 1989, and the following year had a big international breakthrough at the Cannes Film Festival for her work “Night Cries.” She has since then been working both as a photographer and filmmaker. She created her first feature length work, “Bedevil,” in 1993, and it was again selected for the Cannes Film Festival that year.
Moffatt created her film, “Heaven,” in 1997, in which she explored the world of voyeurism by taping surfers on the beach in moments of dressing and undressing. In the millennial year, she was one of the key artists to participate in an exhibition of Indigenous Australians at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Moffatt has always enjoyed fantasy, and as a child used to dress up her siblings in all sorts of ways and then create little scenes for them to play out. She revisited this interest in “Adventure Series” from 2004, in which she uses a variety of props, including painted backdrops and costumes to create a drama. Three years later, she worked on “Portraits” of people she is close to, including friends and family. The same year, she received the “Infinity Award” from the International Center of Photography in New York.
Venice Biennale 2017
Tracey Moffatt will represent the Land Down Under at the Venice Biennale 2017. The exhibition will be curated by Natalie King.
The artist divides her time between New York and Sydney.
1960 - Born in Brisbane, Australia
1979 - Backpacks across Europe
1980 - Enrolls at the Queensland College of Art
1982 - Graduates from the Queensland College of Art, moves to Sydney
1989 - Has her first solo show, at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney
1993 - Creates her first feature length film, “Bedevil”
2007 - Receives the Infinity Award by the International Center of Photography, New York
1989 - Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney
1990 - Cannes Film Festival
1997 - Venice Biennale
1998 - Dia Center for the Arts, New York
2000 - Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
2003 - Retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
2004 - Hasselblad Centre, Goteborg, Sweden
2006 - Retrospective at the Spazio Oberdan, Milan
2011 - Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
2012 - Museum of Modern Art, New York
2017 - Will represent Australia at the Venice Biennale
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
Dia Center for the Arts, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
International Center of Photography, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Tate Gallery, London
Goetz Collection, Munich
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Fundacióon “La Caixa,” Barcelona
“Tracey Moffatt” by Michael Snelling
“Tracey Moffatt: Laudanum” by Brigitte Reinhardt
“Tracey Moffatt” by Regis Durand
“The Moving Images of Tracey Moffatt” by Catherine Summerhayes and Adam Shoemaker
“Moving Pictures and Strange Tales: The High Style Art of Tracey Moffatt” by Patricia Mellencamp