(Australia, United States of America 1960– )
61.0 x 76.0cm image (irreg.); 72.0 x 101.5cm sheet; 90.4 x 103.8 x 2.1cm frame
Tracey Moffatt’s photographic practice is firmly entrenched within the narrative and stylistic lexicon of television, film and media culture. Much of her work is based on recollections of media images from ‘a whole 1960s childhood and 1970s adolescence [spent] glued to the television or with my nose in a book’.1 She typically uses photography to raid the image banks of popular culture and personal memory, recasting familiar visual codes with an acutely critical edge. For example, her well-known 1989 series, ‘Something more’, draws on the imagery of B-grade films of the 1950s and the racy covers of schlock novels of the 1960s; while ‘Scarred for life’ 1994, references the photojournalism and photo essays of ‘Life’ magazine.
Like ‘Something more’, ‘Up in the sky’ returns to the subject of race and violence, presenting a loose narrative set against the backdrop of an outback town, ‘a place of ruin’ and devastation populated by misfits and marginal characters. Unlike previous series, it was shot on location and dispenses with the scenography which is a feature of her earlier work. ‘Up in the sky’ is one of Moffatt’s larger photographic series and takes many of its visual cues from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s masterpiece of Italian modernist cinema ‘Accattone’ 1961. The story hinges on a triangular mixed-race relationship. Of this work Moffatt has said: ‘My work is full of emotion and drama, you can get to that drama by using a narrative, and my narratives are usually very simple, but I twist it … there is a storyline, but … there isn’t a traditional beginning, middle and end.’2
1. Moffatt T & Newton G 1995, ‘Tracey Moffatt: fever pitch’, Piper Press, Sydney p 5
2. Matt G 2002, ‘An interview with Tracey Moffatt’, ‘Tracey Moffatt’, eds P Savage & L Strongman, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington p 34
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
Helen Ennis (Australia) (Author), Photography and Australia, London, 2007, 129.
7079 (Editor), Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 2007, 252, 262.
'Where to now, Contempo?' by Jane Somerville, pg.28-31, Look Jul 2007, Jul 2007, 30.
'Contempo supports Photography Collection' by Judy Annear, pg. 24., Look Mar 1998, Mar 1998, 24.
Wayne Tunnicliffe (New Zealand; Australia) (Author), Strange Days, Domain, 1998, 18-25.
'Tracey Moffatt's lost highway' by Adrian Martin, pg. 14-15., Artlink: The big pond, Australian artists overseas Dec 1998, Dec 1998.
Centre national de la photographie (France) (Author), Centre Cultural de la Fundació "la Caixa" (Spain) (Author), Tracey Moffatt, Paris, 1999, (colour illus.).
'Art through a lens' photography and the Art Gallery Society' by Judy Annear, pg.48-50, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years May 2003, May 2003, 49.
Tracey Moffatt: Free-Falling, DIA centre for the Arts, 09 Oct 1997–14 Jun 1998.
Strange Days, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 29 May 1998–19 Jul 1998.