Trapped with the ideas of the past – Tracey Emin

The downfall of the Britart movement

I’ve been making art for over 20 years, and at long last I finally cracked the code. I got inside of what I do and why I do it. As an artist that’s so important. It’s equal to faith. The world is full of so much shit. There’s a very fine line between what’s necessary and what isn’t. As the artist I must know what’s what – I must be 100 per cent responsible for the things I put into this world.- Tracey Emin; My life in a column

The watercolour work painted on a ruled writing pad is not from a child suffering from autism, or a kindergarten finger painting composition, but rather it is part of the Gran Bretagna pavilion from the 52nd International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale, 2007. The Venice Biennale is Europe’s most prestigious contemporary Art Exposé which hosts 77 pavilions and artists all compete for the most outstanding work at the venue. June 10 – November 21, 2007

This is the work of Tracey Emin who is representing the best of British contemporary Art. Consequently, Ms. Emin’s exhibition comes a week after Damien Hirst unveiled his current work on the theme of shock art to a public and the artworld who are fascinated with his morbid antics. What these two artists have in common other than their Britart connection is their self-absorbed motive to shock. And rather than seeing what they can getaway with, they oversee the opportunity to execute the best possible work.

In her BBC interview, Ms. Emin says regardless of how critics feel about her body of work at the Biennale, her work must be supported fully as she represents Great Briton at the state of contemporary British Art. What is evident is that her concepts are based on narcissism and is a mirror of herself in disposition and poise. One must give her credit for the inner truth she seeks to express but exposing as the Best of British art is in question.

How is art defined? Why would this piece have importance in British Art? These are questions that are as perplexing as what art should entail if anything other than the surface of nationalism it hides behind. Art should stand on the merit of the individual and it should have the ability to provoke an emotion of selflessness. – thebookmann

The collector Charles Saatcchi and the Artists, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin are in the media again. In these times when any media coverage is considered ‘good’ for you, and sleaze television is on an all time high (pun intended) It is very interesting to see that Art has decided that ‘it’ shall not be left out of that debacle.

The reaction to Mr. Hirst’s work last week was much more about bad taste in terms of cost and execution of an unseemly item, than the item itself. I wondered whether the work would have been better accepted if it were in affiliation with a jewellery company for example? We shall never know. My immediate concern has to do with what exactly is such a work saying? The artist was quoted in the article I read, as stating that he was unsure what the piece cost, and that it may have been between ten and fifteen million pounds. He sounded blaze, as though, the amount was only pocket change to him. That in itself was something to mull over, but that was not the rub. I have said many times that there is nothing wrong with making money. After all, many people still believe that to be an Artist is to be poor and struggling in a garrette somewhere.

So, I decided to ask Artists I know to comment on the whole skull thing. I found that what angered people most, was indeed the fact that it cost so much and seemed a show of excess because it is a skull adorned with diamonds, and that that in itself seemed gimmicky. But also there was the feeling that this costly work was somehow taking the mickey of the whole process of Art itself. Anyhow you look at it though, Mr. Hirst wins. What does he ‘win?” He wins in the area of causing Art debate, and as everyone knows, nothing helps Art like a debate on what the hell it is. In his ability to create a great deal of talk and press, the British Art scene sees itself regenerate and they have this one man to thank.

This brings me to the other enfant terrible, Tracey Emin. The basic critique of her work at this years prestigious Venice Biennale is, “ woefully inadequate.” What stinging criticism for the Artist. The critic Richard Dormant goes on to say that her work is “The weakest British entry I’ve ever seen in twenty years.” Now, lets go back to that press is press belief. What does this mean for Miss Emin’s career? Is this the beginning of the end? Is the gild off the lily? Should Mr. Saatcchi begin to jettison some of his prized BritArt works and look to, say, China? He already has…maybe our way, the Caribbean perhaps…but that’s another post.

What caught my attention in the British Telegraph article on Miss Emin was the use of the term, “wow” factor. The critic was expecting it of her. Hirst manages the ‘‘wow’’ factor. Miss Emin needs todo the same. What does that mean? Why should Art be asked to perform such a function? Miss Emin was taken to task for not being able to ‘move forward’ with her work. The French artist Sophie Calle is compared to her and considered much better. It almost sounded like Mr.Dormant wanted to tell her, get with the programme and stop slacking off. Do less primping and more work. Art seems to be playing catch up with the media and not the other way around. In Hollywood what is happening to Miss Emin would be called flavour of the month. This may be the typical build up only to break down, and in this, Miss Emin’s piece at the Venice Biennale, may actually be prophetic even if it fails to wow. Perhaps she is given a greater gift than Mr. Hirst’s constant accolades, she may have an opportunity to step back from all the hype and really become the Artist she wants to be and truely produce work that shall transcend the now, sleaze factor that seems to be successful for some. Cheers – Adele

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