Tracey Moffatt: Under the Sign of Scorpio

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Post by Colette Copeland

Scorpio
Character Traits: Determined and forceful, Emotional and intuitive, Powerful and passionate, Exciting and magnetic
On the Dark Side: Jealous and resentful, Compulsive and obsessive, Secretive and obstinate

Tracey Moffatt as MarieCurie
Tracey Moffatt, Under the Sign of Scorpio (Marie Curie), 2005, Archival pigment on rag paper, 17 x 23 inches. From her show at Stux Gallery.

What do Indira Ghandi, Goldie Hawn, Nadia Comaneci, Tina Brown, Georgia O’Keefe, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Marie Curie, Whoopi Goldberg, Bjork and Margaret Mitchell have in common? They were all born under the astrological sign of Scorpio. In Australian artist Tracey Moffatt’s new photographic series, on exhibit at Stux Gallery in New York, the artist pays homage to forty extraordinary women throughout history.

Using herself as the model, Moffatt shot the photographs in her loft apartment with a simple digital camera. She then digitally stripped the backgrounds and added supernatural colored landscapes. The subjects float within the landscape, suspended in iconic gestures. Unlike celebrity portraits, these images do not reveal specific traits of each individual. In many of the photographs, the subjects’ heads are turned away, hiding their faces. Moffat gives us fleeting moments of the essence or spirit of each woman. The backgrounds suggest ethereal or celestial landscapes, lacking in tranquility. Keeping with the Scorpio characteristics, the fiery colors evoke an emotional and magnetic intensity. The combination of the color palette and figurative gestures references comic book superheroes. While our culture typically venerates sports and movie stars, many other heroes (or heroines in this case) remain unnoticed.

Tracey Moffatt as Bjork
Bjork, Under the Sign of Scorpio, 2005, archival pigment ink on acid-free rag paper, 17 x 23 inches

Beyond the admiration and recognition of these remarkable women, what makes the work resonate is Moffatt’s personal connection. As a Scorpio born on November 12, she was interested in finding out what makes Scorpios tick. What followed was six months of intense research about all of her subjects. She confesses that she has told very few of the Scorpio women about the project. In her words, “The last thing one should do is flatter a Scorpio; they immediately get suspicious and depending on their mood, will hate your guts for it. “ At the risk of offending Tracey Moffatt or invoking her wrath, I will refrain from gushing flattery—especially given that my star sign is Aries and not high on Scorpio’s compatibility chart.


Tracey Moffatt: Under the Sign of Scorpio
Through February 10, Stefan Stux Gallery, 530 West 25th Street, NYC


Colette Copeland
is a multi-media artist, educator, writer and regular contributor to artblog. She is the Chairperson of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Society for Photographic Education. Her recent curatorial projects include: Death Bizarre—Woodstock Center for Photography and the traveling video exhibitions—Proof and Vernacular Spectacular. She is organizing a new traveling video show on the theme of homeland. Interested artists contact her at the email listed on her inliquid page.

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colette copeland, tracey moffatt

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