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I’m not a collector, but in 1995 I bought Tracey I’m not sure what, if anything, Tracey Emin means to people in the fi lmworld, but
Emin’s fi lm Why I never became a dancer (1995) perhaps she could be some sort of role model for British fi lmmakers. If some of
because I found it astonishing. Watching it I was them were as shirty as her, it might put the fear of God into fi nanciers and persuade them to cough up. Her fi lm Top Spot (2004) wasn’t very convincing –
drawn in, chauvinistically excited, then admonished one of those cases where an artist doesn’t seem to have a very clear idea of what
– really put down for my typical male feelings. fi lm means, and what use it can be to her. It seemed she was using video as just
another medium to add to her repertoire. Of course, if she’d been an American
A year later, in 1996, I was invited to Amsterdam to artist, she might have come out with some moderately expensive ‘proper’
be part of a conference called Mind the Gap, production, as Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, Julian Schnabel did – so in that
about the competitiveness between British and respect the video-diary/sketchpad quality of Top Spot was appealingly modest. As an artist’s ‘intervention’ on BBC4, Top Spot made some sense: I don’t think she
Dutch communications culture. Among the would have got away with releasing it on the big screen, as was planned, so the
younger designers like Fuel and Tomato, I actually supposed row over its certifi cation and its subsequent huf_f y withdrawal probably
felt of a previous era – so I showed Tracey’s fi lm as worked out for the best, giving it some added cachet. Some of the headteacher’s
the spirit of a new London. of_f_i ce material, with Emin as a snotty voice-of_f quizzing the girls, worked rather
well: maybe she should look into doing a Catherine Tate-style sketch show.
Tracey’s work navigates the territory of social JONATHAN ROMNEY, fi lm critic
codes, the remnants of our class system, the
dif_f_i cult transitional phase Britain has been going
through for the past decades. She’s been a Tracey is a gypsy
benchmark to me of the challenges of making Tracey is a lady
new work, the uncertainty and the courage
required to take a step into the unknown. Someone Tr a c e y i s b a d
has to have the strength to be themselves in Tracey is mad
front of others despite their fears. Tracey is a Tracey is nice
supreme example of that, and in doing so she has Tracey is naughty
given a reference point to hundreds of others. Tracey is free
Tracey is a beauty
PETER SAVILLE, graphic designer Tracey is fi ne
Tracey is unique

I met with her a few years ago at the ICA. Without knowing each other at all,
she suddenly asked me, “Do you like me? No, you don’t like me?”
And I said, “I do like you! I don’t know you, you make me think of a gypsy!”

I met her a few other times and she has always been so great with me,
I really like her!

PS: One piece of Tracey’s in my collection says, ‘Well, what do you want?’
Why I Never Became a Dancer, 1995, single-screen projection
and sound shot on Super 8, 6 min 30 sec. © the artist. AGNES B., fashion designer
Courtesy Jay Jopling / White Cube, London
What Tracey Emin’s work means to me is what her work means in relation to her audience. It is common knowledge that the explosion of the YBA
phenomenon at the beginning of the 1990s used communication and marketing strategies never seen before in the art system. British artists of this
generation seemed to be direct descendants of Andy Warhol. In the case of Tracey Emin we can say she is Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick at the
same time. Edie Sedgwick came from a dysfunctional upper class family, and Tracey comes from a dysfunctional lower middle class milieu. She does
not need a Pygmalion to make her life the subject of her art practice. Autobiography and narcissism were trademarks of feminist art from the early
1970s. I’m thinking especially of the work of Hannah Wilke and her performative piece Intercourse with… (1978), in which Wilke listens to messages
that lovers, friends and relatives have left on her answering machine, undressing herself, while showing their names written on her naked body; the
association with Emin’s 1995 piece Everyone I have ever slept with (1963–1995) is obvious. But in the end, even if Tracey shares all the miseries of her
real life, she doesn’t come out as the victim, as women artists of the previous generation often do. I think this has a lot to do with popular culture, and
women becoming such central fi gures as consumers. I also think it has to do with post-punk strategies in the world of pop music. Tracey Emin and
Courtney Love, for instance, are both responsible for the rehabilitation of the fi gure of the ‘slut’; but strangely enough, Courtney sings in one of her
most popular songs, “I’m the one who lies…”; while Tracey is selling us her true memoirs. Everything is being reversed.
EMI FONTANA, gallerist
p109-126 Venice AR Jun07.indd 112 10/5/07 03:09:54
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