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Tracey Moffatt

Invocations #1  2000

photo silkscreen, framed

frame 131.5 × 156 × 5cm

Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2013


About the Artwork

The 13 images in the series Invocations are uncanny excursions into an otherworld, drawn from the imagery of dreams, visions, fairy tales and thrillers – a shared cultural memory reaching back to the eighteenth century. Their eeriness cuts across styles, genres and even mediums – these are images made to look like something else: silkscreened photographic prints that have been built up layer-by-layer to look like paintings, using formats that resemble old daguerreotypes and lantern slides.

Moffatt is a picture-maker rather than a picture-taker. With a background in filmmaking, she constructs sets and works with actors to realise her cinematic narratives. The surreal drama of Invocations was based on a dream and delves into what Moffatt has called ‘the dark underworld that we all have … it’s about the murk in all of us, the subconscious.’ Moffatt has compared the making of Invocations, and the arcane ways in which it progressed from dream to object, to a kind of witchcraft. She worked with set builders and actors in a studio to take photographs, which were then silkscreened by hand ‘colour after colour, screen after screen, so the pictures have this sort of built up feel: like a pastel, a watercolour. And it’s very physical. I wanted the physicality of paint on paper. I wanted it to be sensual.’ The fairy tale world she creates in Invocations is peopled by witches and spirits, the lost and vulnerable, who stumble through scenes and landscapes summoned from Disney’s animations, Hitchcock’s movies, Goya’s paintings and the stories of the Brothers Grimm.

All quotes from Tracey Moffatt interviewed by Bruce James, ABC Arts, 9 January 2001.

Tracey Moffatt

– About the artist

Born 1960, Brisbane. Lives and works Sydney.

A director of photo-narratives, Tracey Moffatt is highly regarded for her formal and stylistic experimentation in film, photography and video. Her photographs often reference the history of art and photography, as well as her own childhood memories and fantasies, exploring issues of race, gender, sexuality and identity.

Since her first solo exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney in 1989, Moffatt has exhibited extensively in museums all over the world. Moffatt first gained significant critical acclaim when her short film Night Cries was selected for official competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. Her first feature film, beDevil, was also selected for Cannes in 1993. 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 1997­98, consolidating her international reputation. A solo survey exhibition featuring her seven video montage works opened in May 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Comprehensive survey exhibitions of Moffatt’s work have been held at the MCA, Sydney (2003–04); Hasselblad Centre, Gothenburg, Sweden (2004); and Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2011). In 2006 she had her first retrospective exhibition, Tracey Moffatt: Between Dreams and Reality, in Italy, at Spazio Oberdan, Milan. In 2007 a major monograph, The Moving Images of Tracey Moffatt, was published by Charta Publishers, Milan.

Moffatt’s work is held in numerous international collections, including in Denmark Germany, Japan, Norway and the USA. In Australia she is represented in the collections of the state galleries and a number of regional, university and private collections.

Learn more
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