“Shooting Down Babylon,” the long-anticipated retrospective of South African multimedia artist Tracey Rose, is her largest survey to date. Organized by Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town, the exhibition shares the full breadth of Rose’s artistic output, beginning from the mid-1990s to today. The presentation will be on view from April 23 through September 10, 2023.
For its first and only United States presentation at the Queens Museum, “Shooting Down Babylon” spans more than three galleries to give visitors an in-depth view of the Tracey Rose’s consistent use of her body as a site of protest and resistance, deployed as a medium to examine ideas around repatriation, recompense, and reckoning.
Over the past three decades, Rose’s artistic practice has focused on challenging and subverting unjust systems, spanning religion, racism, patriarchy, and colonialism. Her irreverent and often satirical gaze elevated her to international fame after the end of apartheid in South Africa and, since then, she has become a well-known radical voice for her raw and uncompromising vision.
“Bringing ‘Shooting Down Babylon’ to Queens Museum is particularly poignant for Tracey Rose and our institution. It marks a return for the artist to the context of New York City, which informed her practice for decades,” Koyo Kouoh, Zeitz MOCAA Executive Director and Chief Curator, said. “This collaboration is born from a shared institutional perspective with the Queens Museum; a passionate commitment to our localities, and neighbors; and embracing our audiences as active participants in meaning making and the narration of important art histories.”
The title of the exhibition is derived from Rose’s 2016 video work, Shooting Down Babylon (The Art of War). The work was filmed using body cameras attached to Rose while she performed Amazonic dance rituals. Exorcism and healing rituals are recurring thematic concerns for the artist, and in this piece, the dances symbolize spiritual cleansing from Babylon, which in Rastafarian religion refers to the corrupted, capitalist and colonial modern materialist world that must be overthrown.
Rose’s expansive visual lexicon and material dexterity across mediums is in full display in “Shooting Down Babylon,” a celebration of her legacy as a highly skilled conceptual practitioner and the significance of her ongoing investigation around post-apartheid legacies and liberation movements that provide a space for protest, outrage, resistance, and pertinent discourse.
“Tracey Rose: Shooting Down Babylon” is conceived and organized by Zeitz MOCAA in collaboration with Tracey Rose. The presentation at the Queens Museum is organized by Lauren Haynes, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programs, with Sarah Cho, Assistant Curator.
About the Artist
Tracey Rose (b. 1974, South Africa) is best-known for her evolutionary performative practice which often translates to and is accompanied by photography, video, installation, and digital prints. Often described as absurd, anarchic and carnivalesque, Rose’s work explores themes around post-coloniality, gender and sexuality, race, and repatriation.
Tracey Rose was born in Durban, South Africa. In 1990, she joined the Johannesburg Art Foundation before obtaining a B.A. in Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 1996. In 2004, Rose attended The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance and later obtained her Master of Fine Arts, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK in 2007.
She currently lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
About the Queens Museum
The Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park presents contemporary art, events of hyperlocal and international impact, and educational programs reflecting the diversity of Queens and New York City. Changing exhibitions present the work of emerging and established artists, both local and global, that often explore contemporary social issues, as well as the rich history of its site.
The Museum works outside its walls through engagement initiatives ranging from multilingual outreach and educational opportunities for adult immigrants, to a plethora of community-led art and activism projects. The Museum’s educational programming connects with school children, teens, families, seniors as well as those individuals with physical and mental disabilities.
The Queens Museum is located on property owned in full by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.