28 May, 2009

Sex craze fading fast, says Tracey Emin

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Emin says her work was always about sex – but these days she prefers ideas

In the middle of her new exhibition, in which the most arresting piece is a looped animation of 150 drawings that depict a woman masturbating, Tracey Emin explained that sex is loosening its grip as her 50th birthday looms.

“It always was about sex, not money,” she said. “Sex was what held me in bed and got me out of it again in the morning. But now it’s fading fast. I don’t have the same craziness about sex that I had – I’m more interested in ideas.”

The artist was haloed by a pink glow emanating from a neon piece in the next room. Its inscription read: “Oh Christ I just wanted you to fuck me and then I became greedy, I wanted you to love me.”

Her latest exhibition, at the White Cube gallery in Mayfair, is her first in London for four years, and the price of individual works ranges from £5,000 for a simple drawing to £22,500 for each of the five copies of the animation.

Tim Marlow, director of exhibitions at the gallery, said: “I’m no economist, I don’t know whether we’re in a V or a W-shaped recession, but I’ve been amazed at how resilient the gallery’s sales have been. These will all sell. People may come looking for a deal – but they won’t get one.”

None of the work has been exhibited before, although it includes pages from an 18-year-old diary, as well as the new neon pieces and her trademark embroideries and appliqués on blankets.

Many are autobiographical, but the woman in the animation with the busy hands and the enviable legs in high-heel sandals is not.

“I wish it was me!” Emin said.

The figure is based on a collection of vintage pornography magazines. “I got some funny looks [when buying them],” she said.

One of Emin’s most famous pieces, the embroidered tent entitled Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995, was destroyed in an art store fire five years ago. Her fellow artists Jake and Dinos Chapman revealed at the Guardian Hay Festival at the weekend that they had recreated the work.

Emin said: “It won’t be my tent, it would be totally their version … They’re always teasing me. The more I say I’m not happy, the more the buggers will do it.”

Emin has recently been working in temporary exile, having loaned her studio to another artist, Stephen Cornell. She said: “When the time came for me to take it back he was in full swing, paint everywhere, so I said ‘Don’t worry, I’m working on an animation anyway’. It was just an excuse, but then I decided to do it anyway. I didn’t know if the animation would work, but it was like magic when it all came together when we scanned all the drawings into the computer, I was thrilled with it.”The exhibition, Tracey Emin: Those Who Suffer Love, runs from 29 May to 4 July.

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