The very thing which Tracey Emin is celebrated for in some circles is the same thing for which she is crucified in others – the fact that she has the artistic integrity or pig-headedness to plough her own furrow is a true testament to her vision. I like the way that her honesty cuts straight through the pretentious bullshit that the talking heads would like to slap all over the work of her and her contemporaries. When she told an assembled crowd of the good and the great that she would rather be out celebrating with her friends instead of sitting there and being patronised it and then left the studio it was an act that seemed somehow heroic.
In a culture that deifies individuals who have nothing to elevate themselves above the crowd and nominate them for attention other than willingness Emin’s self-perpetuated cult of personality at least, even if you see no craft in her work, has the benefit of having content and depth – she has a story.
I have heard people say that the work Emin has created could be done by anyone, but it hasn’t been, has it? And anything that comes after as a reaction or comment on her work will be just that, and will have as its root her original ideas. There’s something punk about Emin; a kind of fuck you to the establishment, and she seems to provoke as much confusion and anger as some of the other artists who came under that umbrella of Young British Artists, and those in the Saatchi curated shows such as Sensations, but not so much for what she was commenting on as what she offered up and the nature of its manufacture. Where are the talking heads supposed to go when they can’t look at something and bring their critical thinking to bear quite so easily? Well, if you don’t understand it, destroy it.
Emin seems to be resilient and its good to see her carrying on and bringing her brand of thinking to different mediums.