With just over six weeks until the official launch of the 57th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, the Australia Council for the Arts today revealed the photograph Hell – one of the extraordinary works that will be featured in Tracey Moffatt’s exhibition MY HORIZON at the Australian Pavilion in Venice.
This exhibition of entirely new work will be officially launched in the second week of May 2017 in Venice. It features two major large-scale photographic series and two video works. The exhibition explores journeys – both legal and illegal – and alludes to issues of race and gender, sexuality, desire, identity, and human connection and estrangement.
Hell, the work revealed by Moffatt at her Sydney studio today, is one of 12 large scale photographs from the series Passage which is set in a mysterious dockland. A mother, a motorcycle police officer and a sharply dressed character whom the artist calls ‘the middleman’ enact a drama that is, as Moffatt says, as “old as time itself. People throughout history and across cultures have always escaped across borders to seek new lives.”
On MY HORIZON, Moffatt said: “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.”
Commissioner for Australia, Naomi Milgrom AO said: “It is a special moment in our history, to have Tracey Moffatt’s work represent Australia at this most prestigious international art event. Tracey has forged an extensive, celebrated international career with her meticulously constructed narratives exploring race, gender, sexuality and displacement. Using a language rich with cinematic history and deeply poetic imagery,MY HORIZON deals with many of the issues that occupy our minds today.”
Curator Natalie King said: “MY HORIZON is capacious, open, expansive and personal – an exhibition that references film, art and the epic history of photography, as well as aspects of her family history.”
Through photography and film, Tracey Moffatt creates highly stylised narratives and montage. She first received critical acclaim with the short film Night Cries which was selected for official competition at Cannes Film Festival. 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. An exhibition at the Dia Centre for the Arts in New York followed, consolidating her international reputation.
Since then Moffatt has exhibited extensively in museums and galleries across the globe, with more than 100 international exhibitions including a highly prestigious 2012 solo show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Accompanying the exhibition will be a major new book co-published by Thames and Hudson and the Australia Council, and edited by Natalie King. Hell is the cover image for this definitive survey of MY HORIZON, which features contributions from a range of Australian and international writers and academics. Major essays from Alexis Wright, Djon Mundine OAM and Natalie King respond in powerful ways to MY HORIZON both as an entire exhibition and individual works. The book also charts Tracey Moffatt’s personal inspirations for this new series of work.
Australia Council Chair Rupert Myer AO said that this glimpse into Tracey’s evocative new work confirms why MY HORIZON is such a highly anticipated exhibition.
“This wonderful event has had a profound impact on Australia’s international arts profile through the decades of artists who have come before. Tracey is an extraordinary artist who will richly add to the artistic and cultural legacy of Australia in Venice,” Mr Myer said. “I would like to thank Naomi, Natalie, Tracey and the Australia Council’s Venice team for their dedication and significant efforts to reach today’s milestone, and wish them well as we approach the opening of MY HORIZON in May.”
Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is the world’s oldest and most prestigious biennale of international contemporary art. Unique for its dual exhibition model, the Venice Biennale comprises of a curated show and individual exhibitions of ‘national participations’. It is an important platform for countries to affirm their nation’s artistic and cultural identity.
The Australia Council has been proud to support and manage the Australian representation at the Venice Biennale since 1978, leveraging and positioning Australia as a key player in the visual arts internationally. Australia’s representation at the Venice Biennale began in 1954, and since then 38 distinguished contemporary visual artists have exhibited under the Australia banner with the support of the Australian Council. Past Australian representation has included Fiona Hall (2015), Patricia Piccinini (2003), Bill Henson (1995), Rover Thomas and Trevor Nickolls (1990), Sir Arthur Streeton and Arthur Boyd AC OBE (1958).