Tracey Moffatt to represent Australia at the 2017 Venice Biennale

    15 December 2015

    The Australia Council for the Arts today announced Tracey Moffatt has been selected to represent Australia at the 57th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2017.

    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 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,” Ms 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 22 November, 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 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.”


    Artist Biography

    Born in Brisbane in 1960, Tracey Moffatt studied visual communications at the Queensland College of Art, from which she graduated in 1982.

    Themes such as struggles between individuals, childhood cruelties in suburban life, the toughness of life on the ‘frontier’, the subversion of stereotypes and relations between black and white Australians are apparent in her works. Referencing the artist’s own life and experiences, Moffatt’s work deals with the human condition in all its complexities.

    Since her first solo exhibition at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney in 1989, she has exhibited extensively in museums all over 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. 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 1997/98 which consolidated her international reputation.

    Comprehensive survey exhibitions of Moffatt’s work have been held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2003-4), the Hasselblad Centre in Goteburg, Sweden (2004) and at the 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.  A solo survey exhibition featuring all seven video montage works at the Museum of Modern Art, New York opened in May 2012.

    Tracey Moffatt was the recipient of the 2007 Infinity Award for art by the International Center of Photography, New York. Infinity Awards are given for outstanding achievements in photography by honouring individuals with distinguished careers in the field and by identifying future luminaries.

    Tracey Moffatt is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York.

    Image courtesy of the Artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery


    Curator Biography

    Natalie King curates Australian and international programs that include exhibition making, publications, lectures, workshops and cultural partnerships across contemporary art and indigenous culture. 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. Previously she was inaugural Director of Utopia@Asialink: a pan-Asian incubator, University of Melbourne from 2010-2013. She also led a series of workshops on collaboration in Seoul, Korea in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria, Gertrude Contemporary and Artsonje Centre.

    In 2014, she was co-curator with Djon Mundine of TarraWarra Biennial: Whisper in My Mask and the 13th International Photo Festival at the Dong Gang Museum of Photography, Korea. She has curated exhibitions for numerous museums including the Singapore Art Museum; National Museum of Art, Osaka; Palazzo delle Prigione, Venice; and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. She co-curated (with Djon Mundine) Shadowlife, a major exhibition of Aboriginal photo-media with Asialink that toured to Bangkok, Singapore, Taiwan and Bendigo. She curated Destiny Deacon’s survey exhibition, Walk & don’t look blak, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Adam Art Gallery, Wellington; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo; Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia and Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne.

    King is co-editor (with Professor Larissa Hjorth and Mami Kataoka) of the anthology Art in the Asia Pacific: Intimate Publics, Routledge, 2014 and editor/curator of Up Close: Carol Jerrems with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin and William Yang, Heide Museum of Modern Art. She co-edited a publication on biennial curator Hou Hanru. She has conducted interviews with Ai Wei Wei, Joseph Kosuth, Massimiliano Gioni, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Tacita Dean, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Henson, Jitish Kallat, Hou Hanru and Cai Guo-Qiang amongst others. She is widely published in arts media including Flash Art, LEAP and Photofile. She is a Member of the International Association of Art Critics, Paris and holds a Master of Arts from Monash University.

    Image courtesy of TarraWarra Museum of Art 


    Commissioner Biography

    Naomi Milgrom AO is the Commissioner for the Australian exhibition at the 57th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2017.

    Ms Milgrom is an exceptional business leader and entrepreneur with a distinguished record of leadership and philanthropy in the arts, sciences and education. Ms Milgrom has shepherded landmark initiatives in the cultural arena and shaped alliances between local and global partners. A pioneer of the design thinking movement she is the owner of the Sportsgirl/Sussan Group of Companies. 

    A committed and passionate supporter of the arts and contemporary culture, Ms Milgrom recently established the Naomi Milgrom Foundation to initiate bold public art, design and architecture projects including MPavilion, a new temporary cultural space. Ms Milgrom is a member of the International Council for the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Basel Global Patrons Council and former Chair of The Katherine Hannay Visual Arts Commission for ANZ Trustees. She was the Chair of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art from 2005 – 2011 and is a former Trustee of both the National Gallery of Victoria and The Jewish Museum of Australia. Currently, she is on the advisory council of the Centre for Ethical Leadership and a board member of the Melbourne Business School at The University of Melbourne.

    Image credit: Steven Chee

    FACT SHEET

    • Founded in 1895, the Venice Biennale is the oldest and largest established biennale in the world.
    • Australia has been represented at the Venice Biennale since 1954 with Sidney Nolan, Russell Drysdale and William Dobell the first to exhibit. Since then 37 Australian visual artists have exhibited.
    • Fiona Hall was the first artist to exhibit in the new Australian Pavilion, which opened in May 2015. The new pavilion, designed by Melbourne architectural firm Denton Corker Marshall replaced the temporary pavilion established in 1988, designed by Philip Cox.
    • 88 countries exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2015, and Australia is one of only 29 countries to be granted a site in the historic Biennale Gardens.
    • More than 30,000 of the world’s leading curators, collectors, critics and media attend the three-day Vernissage (preview) period and more than 500,000 people visited the Biennale in 2015.
    • More than $1 million is raised for each Venice Biennale from sponsors, philanthropic foundations and private individuals. 

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