Michael Church (michaelchurch) wrote,
Michael Church

Tracey Emin rule ok

A few blogs ago, I ruffled some fine-art feathers by suggesting that Anish Kapoor was a fraud. I recommended that readers should catch an interview he had given on BBC World, in which the bogusness of London’s fine-art scene was gloriously laid bare. Having just watched Tracey Emin interviewed on BBC Four by the indulgently uncritical Mark Lawson, I now recommend - at the risk of ruffling more feathers - that people should catch this revelatory programme while it’s available on Freeview. Because if you ever wanted to get inside the YBA mindset (beautifully pilloried in the current Private Eye), this show - preferably laced with a pleasantly stiff whisky - is for you.

I won’t spoil the fun by giving it all away in advance, and I’m not suggesting that Tracey is anything but a thoroughly decent - and these days rather sweet - human being, with a clear run ahead towards her Damehood. It’s piquant to hear her affronted head-girl tones when she complains about the rotters who had the nerve to question her suitability to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale: ‘They should have all got behind me when I was selected.’ Quite so: for Team Britain, that sort of behaviour is just not good enough.  

But the Eureka moment not to miss - both hers and ours - comes when she describes looking at her bed after 36 hours of drunkenly fouling it, and realising that it is no mere bed, but ‘My Bed’, and thus Great Art for the galleries, without anything further being done to it at all.

The other point to note is her condescending declaration that the thousands of other artists who beaver away producing paintings and sculptures are lesser beings, because they have never hit the headlines with a ‘seminal’ work. Damien, who has produced one (his shark), gets into the big league, but Tracey has produced no less than two, so of course she’s out there on top. ‘I love my art’, she purrs gratefully, and you can see why: no cash-cow was ever so cheap to maintain. But is she an artist? If she is, the evidence remains well hidden - for all her pious words about long nights spent learning how to pattern-cut and draw.

As with Anish Kapoor, toilers in the musical vineyard will simply wonder at an artistic community which tolerates such smugness, and celebrates such contempt for what art is really about.
Tags: bbc four, tracey emin

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