Shotgun Reviews

Tracey Moffatt: Spirit Landscapes at Tyler Rollins Fine Art / Spectrum Queer Media at New Parkway Theater

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. This week, we have two Shotgun Reviews for our readers! In the first, Bansie Vasvani reviews Tracey Moffatt’s Spirit Landscapes at Tyler Rollins Fine Art in New York City. In the second, Felicia Hayes considers the Spectrum Queer Media programming of the New Parkway Theater in Oakland.


Tracey Moffatt. As I Lay Back on My Ancestral Land No. 2, 2013; digital print; 49 x 72 in.; edition of 8.

Perhaps the most striking part of Tracey Moffatt‘s Spirit Landscapes at Tyler Rollins Fine Art was meeting Moffatt in person. Forthright and guileless, she spoke of her Australian Aboriginal ties and her return to her country to document nature after being away for more than a decade. Stirring in her commitment to her heritage and nation, her photographs tackle issues of identity and belonging in a forceful yet subtle manner.

In the series titled As I Lay Back on My Ancestral Land, a slew of surreal images are presented through different colored filters that alter a viewer’s perception and reception of the work. Photographed while lying on the ground, a reclining naked female body’s contours are interwoven with shots of the trees and the sky that suggest her strong association with the land. Yet the spectrum of bright tinted filters create an affective distance from a more heavy-handed treatment of traumatic Aboriginal history. Not only does this feature set a playful tone and help release past anxiety, it also has the opposite effect of drawing the viewer in and making the image resonate and linger in one’s mind.

If the work is defined especially from the point of view of Moffatt’s Aboriginal ancestors and the way they were bound to the land, her methodology helps unbind, expel, and banish these memories. Picturesque Cherbourg, another series comprising photographs of pretty suburban landscapes that are ripped and reassembled, was in fact an area where the “natives” were held in the 1920s. Decades later, the cheerful sunny backyards attest to the passing of time and the absence of memory. Moffatt seems to suggest that time continues singularly through day and night, keeping the past from the present and future. The violence of the ripped photographs is a reminder of Cherbourg’s tainted history.

Even though Moffatt’s images reference personal themes, the notions of identity and belonging take on a larger universal significance. She raises important questions about the subtle play between traumatic memories of the past and the present, and the way they shape one’s relationship and kinship with a place. Ultimately the viewer is left to ponder these ideas from Moffatt’s persuasive and compelling body of work.

Spirit Landscapes is on view at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, in New York City, through December 21, 2013.

Bansie Vasvani is an independent art critic and writer. She lives in New York City.

Vonetta McGee.jpg: New Spectrum Media announcement for Blacula. Courtesy of New Spectrum Media.

Vonetta McGee.jpg: Spectrum Queer Media announcement for Blacula. Courtesy of Spectrum Queer Media.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which serves Austin’s independent film and LGBTQIA communities, was my favorite theater in the city. My best friend and I would attend the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival every year there. It was the only time and place that we could see films by, for, and about LGBTQIA individuals.

When I moved to the Bay Area, I didn’t think I would find a movie theater like the Alamo until I saw an advertisement for a screening of Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years. 1984-1992 (2012) at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland. This was one of many weekly films catering to the East Bay’s LGBTQIA community—in particular those of color—that Spectrum Queer Media puts on. Kin Folkz (aka Monica Anderson) founded Spectrum Queer Media, curates these events, and aims to celebrate and empower the people who attend them. If you are feeling some sort of way when you are there, Kin Folkz will somehow appear and give you one of those lingering, healing hugs in which she totally empathizes with you. The burden of navigating through daily micro-aggressions (whether racist, sexist, or homophobic) tends to take its toll, and a hug like this will release the tears so I can go on with my week.

At the Parkway, you can order “Nacho Ordinary Nachos,” wash it down with “Periscope Mash-Up Red Wine,” and then top it off with an It’s-It ice-cream sandwich, or “Crusty Carmel Corn.” My friend’s popcorn came in a white plastic bowl, like the one passed around when watching your favorite TV show at home as a child.

Even if other mainstream feature films are screening in other rooms or at other times at the Parkway, Spectrum Queer Media films are one hundred percent LGBTQIA. Films such as Pariah (2007), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), and The New Black (2013), as well as classics such as Blacula (1972), are shown. There are a few perks to attending: After the films, prizes are given out for answering trivia questions, and there might be a panel or Q&A with the filmmaker, in person or remotely. There have been impromptu performances and talkbacks, a common practice in African American homes. As the film unfolds on screen, another conversation may simultaneously take place during the film, which enhances the humor and viewing experience. I highly recommend going to these events at least once. You will leave feeling embraced and filled.

Spectrum Queer Media hosts Spectrum Sundays and Taboo Tuesdays weekly at the New Parkway Theater, in Oakland, California.

Felicia Hayes is pursuing her Masters of Fine Art in Creative Writing from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco.