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Art in Present Tense: Venice Biennale 2007 by Nat Bitten, Part 3
Venice Biennale , Venice

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the British Pavilion also avoided the political and resolutely focused on the personal with Tracey Emin, self styled Grand dame of Brit art and former Margate slag. She sculked around before her photocall – what’s wrong I wondered, foolishly thinking this might be a happy day for her. But no, she was pissed off with the weather, about to rain on her parade.

When she rushed around the corner, the crowd started cheering, the flashbulbs went off and she perked up. She stood on the steps waving to the press like Eva Perron, her breasts pushed up and out of her designer white suit just like any celebrity – she could have been leaving the Big Brother house. I didn’t see other artists performing for the press in this way. Unlike Britain, other countries do not fuel the cult of the artist’s personality.

Yet again Emin’s work shrieked, “It’s all about me” - how different from the Russian group who work as a collective, beyond the individual ego and create far more powerful work because of it. Her show contained the usual fair we have come to expect; neons, sketchbooks from the time of her abortions, scrappy paintings of sex. Surely Emin has mined these themes to death? The press were informed that Tracey is the second internationally famous artist from Margate since Turner. She is also only the second woman ever to represent Britain solo at the Biennale (Rachel Whiteread was the first in 1997). It seems a shame that her art has to be so singularly about sex, which women are encouraged to sell in every walk of life. Is there nothing else to say in these troubled times?

What the show lacked in originality it made up for in merchandising. Britain was the only pavilion with a shop outside; hats for sale, flying cock tattoo only 2 Euros, teapot with drawing 80 Euros. A wild artist selling teapots? If it weren’t postmodern, it would be pathetic.

The end of part 3, read part 4
Tracy Emin
length: 1 min.