Saturday, 29 October 2011

Interview: Tracey Emin and Ruth Skilbeck

In interview: Ruth Skilbeck & Tracey Emin at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 2004  
                                     Photograph © Copyright Ruth Skilbeck

Professor Tracey Emin and Ruth Skilbeck pondering the art of travelling light in 2004. 

In the photo I am interviewing Tracey Emin, who at the time was attracting media epithets such as  'bad-girl' of British Art, and 'Britain's biggest art celebrity'.

Tracey came to Sydney in 2004 for the opening of her exhibition, Fear, War and the Scream at Roslyn Oxley9 gallery.

Tracey's stories of her adolescent experiences of rape and racial abuse, transformed into the material  form of her art catapulted her into the upper echelons of the art world when she was picked up out of her struggling artist's life in an East End council flat by Charles Saatchi. Achieving cultural and political prominence in the 80s, Saatchi, is the advertising agency director who advised the Thatcher government, then turned to contemporary art. In the mid-90s Tracey Emin became one of  Saatchi's  curated group of Young British Artists, that also included Damien Hirst and the Chapman Brothers. No longer so 'young', their work continues to be represented by Jay Jopling in London's White Cube gallery.

Sitting in the sun on the terrace of the gallery, we were talking literally and metaphorically about 'the Art of Travelling Light'. A stream of consciousness that began when I asked her about how she flies. We devised a story concept of Tracey Emin's Art of Travelling Light -with tips on how to fly aesthetically with minimal baggage- or in Tracey's case designer luggage. Above the detritus of relationship breakdowns, addictions, life's crises. With friends and other animals (Tracey had a much loved cat); through the transformed subjectivity of art.

An alchemy that seems even more apt now.

© Copyright Ruth Skilbeck 2011

My story 'Tracey Emin Down Under' is published in POL Oxygen-Design, Art, Architecture, Issue 2, 2003.


karen said...

Beautiful post Ruth. I love the photo and yes traveling light, who do we do this in the midst of horrors, spectacles, complexities and anxieties? face to face body to body conversations = alchemy.

Ruth Skilbeck said...

Thanks Karen. The interview as art and performance is not always acknowledged as such in journalism...perhaps this underlying meaning comes out most clearly in performative artist interviews.