When Tracey Emin won the Turner prize for her piece, ‘My Bed’ it certainly created a cavenous divide between those who saw it as a raw and intimate keyhole through which to view the artists personal life and those who thought, it’s just a bed. Those of the latter’s disposition consider the former’s somewhat pretentious, yet those of the former consider the latter’s too narrow-minded and simplistic; unable to think outside the box, as it were. Regardless of disposition however, it has made her incredibly famous and incredibly rich.
If Emin has contributed anything, it is the message that kids now have legitimacy in failing to tidy their rooms. Emin’s mother must feel rather stupid after years of telling her daughter to tidy her bedroom, considering the benefits reaped from her unmade bed adorned with decorative vodka, worn underwear and used contraception. Is this still art? Or is it just framing laziness and a lack of hygiene? Well no, as modern art doesn’t actually require a frame. ‘My Bed’ just seems to include a list of things no-one would want to see or ever thought they’d see in a gallery. This piece may be an invitation into Emin’s personal life, but what made her think we cared? Some would argue that the talent is coming up with the idea of the installation; the art world has shifted focus from the importance of technical proficiency and brilliance to subtle messages and symbolism that objects, such as the bed, can relay.
Another of Emin’s work is entitled, ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995’ in which she sews the names of her past lovers onto the inside of a tent. This is somewhat more artistic than, ‘My Bed’ but it is not so much personal insight into the artists life, more just a serving of “too much information” with a side of “why do we care?”.
Under the Labour government Emin was unhappy at the 50% tax she had to pay due to the threshold of her income and even considered emigrating to France where the taxing isn’t so harsh and where they hold a higher appreciation for “art”. Anyone who has made so much money out of displaying their own lack of hygiene however is really in no place to complain. She still earns enough to be completely comfortable regardless of tax. The money she earns is not befitting of the dirty laundry she displays. The British art scene may lose an artist if she goes to France but they certainly won’t lose any art, just an old, dirty bed.
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