Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Moffatt exhibition

Tracey Moffatt: First Jobs Series and Selected Films
Two Rooms
16 April - 16 May 2009

Australian artist Tracey Moffatt presents two sorts of project in this Auckland show. On the walls of Two Rooms' downstairs gallery are a large selection of pastel-coloured, digitally blended photographs featuring the artist in younger days, working in a number of tediously boring, low paid student jobs.

Here in these (often) fictitious scenarios, unlike real life, she is chirpily enjoying the work. Grimy spaces are prettied up with ironical relish. The colours are fruity, much like bathroom decor in their pale but saccharine sweetness. The cheerful palette is clearly sarcastic. The artist is obviously pleased she doesn’t have to do that sort of employment now.

The other works are short films: four on plasma screens and a fifth in its own viewing room. In these loops (Love, Lip, Artist, Doomed and Revolution) Moffatt has worked with Gary Hillberg, a gifted editor. He is a crucial contributor because these are montages of extremely varied, multiple clips taken from different movie libraries. Here precision in editing is everything. For these works, continually running splices of passionate and violent confrontation and snippets of dramatic dialogue flow like running water in a seemingly natural and rhythmical fashion, accompanied by a turbulent soundtrack.

Moffatt and Hillberg have taken a simple idea first explored by Christian Marclay in his 1995 film Telephone, and really pushed it towards something richer in content and very powerful emotionally. Their sequences are utterly engrossing, never boring, and sustain viewer interest for a long period. The coloured photographs will probably quickly pall in comparison, but Moffatt’s films are so layered (and physically compelling) you keep discovering interesting, hitherto un-noticed nuances – formally, historically, sociologically and semiotically.

This is one of the best shows Two Rooms have had for some time. Not to be missed.

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