A public garden & cultural center

Tracey Moffatt

Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness
Glyndor Gallery | April 8–July 9, 2017

Pictured above:
Night Spirits No. 1 ‘Nunnery in Red, by the Orange Tree in Blue, Desert in Yellow’, 2013
Photographs mounted behind acrylic
Courtesy of the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York, NY

Employing photography, film and video, Tracey Moffatt approaches her work as a film director and visual storyteller. She experiments with various printing processes to make her photographs and imbues the images with a filmic, narrative quality; the artist describes these her works as “photo dramas.” Recurring themes in her work connect to concepts in Outcasts that relate to family, home and the land, topics she addresses within the context of her Aboriginal heritage. “I always had my own stories to tell. I remember a few radical Aboriginal leader-types in the early days saying to me, ‘Do what you want.’ And I just needed to hear that.” Without making her art “didactic or preachy,” Moffatt explores the traumatic consequences of colonialism in a nuanced yet meaningful way.

After Moffatt returned to Australia in 2010, following 12 years in New York City, the experiences of displacement and loss have become underlying subjects in her recent work. Her series of triptychs, Night Spirits in Red, Yellow, Blue and Green, combines a powerful spiritual presence with the bleakness of the suburban landscape. The photographs in this series suggest glowing spirit energies, captured by pointing a camera into the night sky, in haunted places that she visited in the Queensland outback. In Australia, as in North America, the massacre of indigenous communities often accompanied land acquisition. The Night Spirits images, with their flickering light, seem to reveal traces of the countless lives lost and give the impression that Moffatt believes her homeland is populated by ghosts. “Spirits are real,” she says.

Tracey Moffatt’s Night Spirit series (2013) represents the artist’s return to highly personal themes relating to family, home and the land, in the context of her Australian aboriginal heritage. Key notions involve a search for one’s ancestral lands and an attempt to reconnect with history and tradition. After many years of living abroad, Moffatt began a three-year exploration of places in Australia that were scenes of important events in her life and that of her family. Moffatt’s films, videos and photographs have been exhibited widely, including numerous biennials in Venice, Sydney, Singapore, São Paulo and Gwangju. A major exhibition at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York in 1997–98 solidified her international reputation. She exhibited her photographic series, Scarred For Life, at the Guggenheim Museum and her video, LO VE, at the Brooklyn Museum; she received a comprehensive retrospective at Museum of Modern Art, New York Moffatt earned a BA in visual communications from Queensland College of Art.

Learn more about the artist here

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.