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La Biennale di Venezia | Australia : Tracey Moffatt : MY HORIZON
Tracey Moffatt, "Hell" ,from a suite titled Passage, an element in Tracey Moffatt's major new work, MY HORIZON.

Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Tracey Moffatt : MY HORIZON

www.australiacouncil.gov.au

 

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 has revealed the photograph ‘Hell’ – one of the extraordinary works that will feature 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 the 1990 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).

Tracey Moffatt will be the sole artist exhibiting at the Australian Pavilion in the Giardini, with the exhibition to be curated by Natalie King.

Venice Biennale 2017 Commissioner Naomi Milgrom AO said she was thrilled that Tracey had agreed to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale in 2017. “With a career spanning over 25 years, Tracey is one of Australia’s most celebrated and differentiated contemporary artists, invigorating the art scene both locally and internationally. Tracey is the first Australian Indigenous artist to present a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale, marking this appointment as significant, bold and inspirational—a moment to be celebrated by all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, as it will be by all Australians.”

Tracey Moffatt said she was privileged and very excited to be invited to develop a solo exhibition in the Australian Pavilion.

“Last week, when Commissioner Naomi Milgrom telephoned to inform me that it was to be me, Ms. Moffatt, for Venice in 2017, I was a little in shock,” Moffatt said. “Naomi Milgrom and the wonderful curator Natalie King and I will indeed enjoy our Venice 2017 journey together, and we three will make sure that we keep up the humour. But we three are dead serious about art: Naomi, with her collecting and commissioning; Natalie, who has worked as a curator for more than half her life; and as for me, I haven’t really had a life—I’ve only had art. I’ve already started on my artworks for the Australian Pavilion. Thank you, this is a privilege for me.”

Tracey Moffatt is one of Australia’s most successful artists, both nationally and internationally. Highly regarded for her formal and stylistic experimentation in film, photography and video, her work draws on the history of cinema, art and photography, as well as popular culture and her own childhood memories and fantasies.

Tracey has held around 100 solo exhibitions in Europe, the United States and Australia. Some of her films have been selected for the Cannes Film Festival, and in 1997, she was invited to exhibit in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale. In 2016, the Art Gallery of NSW will present Laudanum and other works, which will provide an in-depth study of her use of the still and moving image.

Australia Council Chair Rupert Myer AO said the Council was extremely pleased to have one of Australia’s most prominent contemporary artists exhibiting at the pavilion. “The Venice Biennale is the most important and prestigious event on the international contemporary arts calendar, and the Council considers our involvement to be an important part of the way we promote Australian artists to international audiences,” Mr. Myer said.

“At this year’s Biennale, which closed on November 22, a record 287,690 people visited the new Australian Pavilion to see Fiona Hall’s wondrous installation, and we are delighted to now build on this momentum into 2017 with Tracey Moffatt.”

Tracey’s exhibition will be curated by Natalie King. Natalie is a curator and widely published arts writer with more than two decades experience in international contemporary art. Her unique cultural footprint has seen her develop a depth of expertise and networks across indigenous as well as contemporary arts, realising landmark projects in Australia, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Current roles include Chief Curator of Biennial Lab, City of Melbourne; Senior Research Fellow, Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne; and Creative Associate of MPavilion. She has curated Tracey’s work into group exhibitions at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and the 13th Dong Gang International Photo Festival, Korea.

Tracey was selected by a five-member panel comprising: Naomi Milgrom AO, Australian Commissioner for the Venice Biennale 2017, Chair of the Selection Advisory Panel; Nicholas Baume, Director and Chief Curator, Public Art Fund, New York; Rebecca Coates, Acting Director, Shepparton Art Museum and independent curator; Lisa Havilah, Director, Carriageworks; and Chris Saines, Director, Queensland Art Gallery I Gallery of Modern Art.

Naomi Milgrom also said that she was delighted to announce the continued support of The Balnaves Foundation as the Major Partner, and The University of Melbourne and White Rabbit Gallery as Supporting Partners.

“The Venice Biennale is Australia’s key private-public arts partnership and through our collaborative efforts, we are able to maximise international profile and opportunities for Tracey Moffatt and the broader Australian contemporary visual arts sector. As the new Commissioner for Australia, I’d like to acknowledge and thank our Major and Supporting Partners, and all our individual donors for their continued commitment to this project.”

For further media information:
Karen Smith, Media Manager
T +61 498 123 541 / k.smith [​at​] australiacouncil.gov.au

The Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body manages Australia’s representation at the Venice Biennale.


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