Tyler Rollins Fine Art is pleased to present The Travellers, a solo exhibition by Tracey Moffatt, taking place from June 7 to August 24, 2018. The exhibition features Passage, a series of twelve photographs, and the single-channel video, Vigil. These works had their debut to wide acclaim as part of Moffatt’s solo presentation for the Australian Pavilion in the 2017 Venice Biennale, and The Travellers marks their first showing outside of Venice. It follows Moffatt’s recent Vigils exhibition with the gallery, which showcased Body Remembers, her other photographic series from the Australian Pavilion.
One of today’s leading international visual artists working in photography, film and video, Moffatt is known as a powerful visual storyteller, and many of her works have achieved iconic status both in her home country of Australia and around the world. She approaches all her work with a film director’s eye for setting and narrative, and her photographs play with a dynamic array of printing processes. In her work for the Australian Pavilion, collectively entitled MY HORIZON, the horizon line functions both as a structural focal point within the images and as a metaphor for reaching one’s limitations and perhaps wanting to go beyond them. It represents a dream-like state of aspiration that is haunted by visions of an uncertain future and tinged with melancholy about what has come before.
Passage is set amid the rundown buildings and docks of a commercial port, with a small cast of characters that includes a mysterious man, a mother and child, and a policeman. It is shot in the moody, dramatically lit style of 1940s film noir, which heightens the sense of danger, foreboding, and intrigue that builds throughout the series, adding dark emotional resonances to its themes of migration, human trafficking, and the desperate search for a better life. Moffatt explains: “I have tried not to ‘locate’ the story so that it can hopefully ‘move’ and be ‘read’ by many cultures… I want the 1940s era to read as ‘of the past’, but the storyline speaks about what is happening in the world today with asylum seekers illegally crossing borders. But I don’t want the images to read as a dated news story, because in fact the asylum-seeking storyline is not a new story: it is one as old as time. People throughout history and across cultures have always escaped and crossed borders to seek new lives.” The video, Vigil, extends these themes. A stirring montage of film clips, it features scenes of white Hollywood movie stars gaping and staring with looks of dramatic horror, juxtaposed with visual graphics derived from contemporary images of boats packed with dark skinned migrants. The work explores issues of race and class within the context of the spectacle of mass media, and was inspired in part by a notorious incident in 2010 when a boat of asylum seekers heading for Australia sank off the coast of Christmas Island.
Moffatt was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1960, and 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 1989, she has participated in well over 500 exhibitions around the world. She first gained significant critical acclaim when her short film Night Cries was selected for official competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. She was based for twelve years in New York City, where many of her career landmarks took place. A major exhibition at the Dia Center for the Arts in 1997-98 solidified her international reputation. Her photographic series Scarred for Life was exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum and her video LOVE at the Brooklyn Museum in 2007. Also that year, she received the Infinity Award for art photography, selected by an international panel at the International Center of Photography. A retrospective exhibition of her video work was on view at the Bronx Museum in 2011, and in 2012, the Museum of Modern Art presented a comprehensive retrospective of her films and videos, featuring screenings of all her major moving image works and a ten-day series of artist talks at the museum. She was honored with the Australia Council Visual Arts Award in 2013, and in 2016 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of her “distinguished service to the visual and performing arts as a photographer and film maker, and as a mentor and supporter of, and role model for, Indigenous artists.” Her works are included in numerous major museum collections, including: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Brooklyn Museum; Centre Pompidou; Stedelijk Museum; Tate Modern; and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.