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Tracey Moffatt

Something More #1  1989

cibachrome print, framed

frame 111 × 141 × 3.2cm

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased 1992


About the Artwork

The nine images in Something More tell an ambiguous tale of a young woman’s longing for ‘something more’, a quest which brings dashed hopes and the loss of innocence. With its staged theatricality and storyboard framing, the series has been described by critic Ingrid Perez as ‘a collection of scenes from a film that was never made’. While the film may never have been made, we recognise its components from a shared cultural memory of B-grade cinema and pulp fiction, from which Moffatt has drawn this melodrama. The ‘scenes’ can be displayed in any order – in pairs, rows or as a grid – and so their storyline is not fixed, although we piece together the arc from naïve country girl to fallen woman abandoned on the roadside in whatever arrangement they take. Moffatt capitalises on the cinematic device of montage, mixing together continuous narrative, flashbacks, cutaways, close-ups and memory or dream sequences, to structure the series, and relies on our knowledge of these devices to make sense and meaning out of the assemblage.

Something More was made while Moffatt was artist-in-residence at Albury Regional Art Centre in May 1989, and was produced in conjunction with staff and students of the photography department at the Centre for Visual Arts Murray Campus of Charles Sturt University, the artists of the Link Access studio and the general community of Albury Wodonga. Moffatt ‘stars’ as the beautiful ingénue in the cheongsam, and conjures the stifling atmosphere of small-town life in the cane fields of her native Queensland through vividly painted sets. The pantomime feeling of the series is amplified by the stereotypical characters of the trashy blonde and the Chinese boy-next-door who feature alongside her, and the lush colour saturation of the Cibachrome images. Something More is the first of Moffatt’s photographic series which demonstrates all of the elements that have made her work so acclaimed: its theatrical staginess, its references to film, art and photographic history and issues of race and gender.

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.

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