Skip to content

Tracey Moffatt

Much of Tracey Moffatt’s photography and film-making address major social issues, including land rights, the stolen generation, immigration and globalisation. However, Moffatt’s emphasis upon staging and fabrication also lends the work a complex, dream-like quality. “I think all my imagery comes from my subconscious, from dreams. I am not talking about when I dream at night (these are far too weird and sick) but the dreams I have when I am awake. We can dream with our eyes open. This is why I have been hesitant to be written about as a social commentator. I think my work is very dream-like.” (Tracey Moffatt, in Gerald Matt, ‘An Interview with Tracey Moffatt,’ in Paula Savage and Lara Strongman (eds), Tracey Moffatt, City Gallery: Wellington, 2002, p. 33.)

Moffatt’s celebrated films and photoseries, including Something More (1989), Scarred for Life (1994), Up in the Sky (1998), Laudenum (1998), Invocations (2000) and Adventure Series (2004), draw on and subvert traditions of painting, photography, literature (particularly southern American literature) and popular culture. Through an engagement with narrative, Moffatt is able to develop her ideas and imbue her aesthetic with intense drama.

“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. In the Up in the Sky pictures there is a story line, but the hanging order of the pictures can change it around. There isn’t a traditional beginning, middle and end. You can be in the present and shift to the past and come back to the present – it’s playing with time and space.” (ibid. p. 34)