Saturday, August 15, 2020

Ctrl+Pdf Journal of Contemporary Art Issue No.15

Flashing Emin: critical analysis of “spectacular” contemporary arts

KuBilay Akman

... Last Words

Unfortunately, Tracey Emin’s sensational style, both in her life and art works, is overshadowing the more interesting representatives of contemporary art scene and more particularly YBAs, such as Damien Hirst. As Sol Lewitt said, “the idea becomes a ma- chine that makes the art. This kind of art is not theoretical or illustrative of theories; it is intuitive, it is involved with all types of mental processes and it is purposeless.”8 When we look at numerous established or young contemporary artists, we see how the machine (idea) successfully works in the intuitive creation/production process. During my stay in the Balkans, as an art critic and scholar I had the chance to see the outstanding works of many artists, who are working devotedly despite all the difficulties. I can mention the names of Alem Korkut, Tanja Perisic, Saso Stanojkovic, Slavica Janeslieva among many others. Apparently Damien Hirst is more “conceptual” and “creative” than Tracey Emin with his elaborately thought and applied installations. I can mention also the names of Debora Warner and Ana Prvacki, both are promising female promising artists who prove that art can be successful and aesthetically/conceptually significant without flashing the artist himself/herself. And of course Marina Abramovic is the “master” of arts that touch the most intimate and individual points, while at the same time dealing with the most public and political issues, through a powerful artistic grammar, even exposing her body in the highest open and direct way, still thousands miles far away from exhibitionism. Tracey Emin is unfortunately lacking of these features.

Here the borders of our critical analysis have been limited with just two installa- tions, as these were the most typical and stigmatic ones. Flashing the “personal” is an obsession for Emin constantly repeated through her works. This shallow exhibitionism is missing a strong conceptual or artistic basis, and prodding the audience through the “flashes,”—spectacle, innocence games and lascivious tricks of seduction. Art does not need to be “theoretical,” as Lewitt said. However an “idea” is processed as the essential mechanism at the heart of conceptual arts. For Emin, “desire” is filling the absence of an elaborate idea. It is possible to talk about the “desiring machines” in the Deleuzian meaning of the term, crossing her work.

If we close the circle where we started, when we speak sociologically, Emin is an artist and her work is art; although she has the Achilles’ Heel. The critique here targeted her “heel.” However the qualities that I refer to as “Achilles’ Heel” can be quite accept- able for others. We can have an endless theoretical discussion on this issue. As Goethe said, “theory is gray.”9 The point is that the green tree of life is also becoming gray more and more everyday. And finally, when art is also beginning to lose its colors and becoming gray, then the bells of caution are ringing. There are dark gray clouds floating over contemporary arts. 

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