Earlier this year, I attended the press view of ‘A Fortnight Of Tears’ by and with Tracey Emin, at The White Cube Gallery, London. What has interested me, particularly, since the exhibition are the wide ranging and diverse reviews and critiques of this show. Having spent time speaking with Emin, as well as sharing the exhibition and space with her, I felt closer to this artwork and to her psyche than I ever have before. Many of the reviews were critical, she is an artist who has always attracted harsh critics. Her most infamous work “My Bed” (1988), is in many ways, metaphorically, part of this exhibition. It’s re-inacted as fifty huge iPhone selfie images displayed on the gallery walls, taken as she awakes in bed, displaying plastic surgery scars, moods and various nightgown changes. In an interview, she describes to Griselda Murray Brown, Financial Times, how this exhibition relates, “the Bed for me, is the closest thing that I have to [these] works because I stained that bed, I cried in that bed, I shit in that bed, I fucked in that bed, probably vomited in that bed. Everything that that bed is, is in [these] paintings”. Her theme of art has been the same for sometime, over 30 years, and consists mainly of abuse, abortion, love, loss, death, so not for the fainthearted but to define this recurring theme in one word, I would choose ‘life’. She has relentlessly been criticised for yelling about rape, this was before the #MeToo era and her response to that was “Of course I’m screaming about rape. Why shouldn’t I be?” frankly, I couldn’t agree more, don’t you? “I kept trying to say [this] to people years ago”, Emin continued. “Suddenly I’m allowed to express myself and to have the language and the voice that I’ve had for years and years. Now we’re in a time where we can put things right, and this is what my work is about”. Critics continue to urge her to ‘move on’ but much of the true grit of life, is incessant.
Another recurring critical aspect of Emin’s art and again it’s one that is repeated throughout the art world, is ‘is it art?’. I wonder why we are still asking this question.
In 1988, Richard Woodward wrote a feature article in the New York Times discussing recent photographic work, entitled “It’s Art, But Is It Photography?’. He went on to say “It isn’t clear anymore how photography should be valued or looked at, where within our museums it should be exhibited-even what is or is not a photograph”. In the late 1800’s debates literally raged about the status of photography, ‘is it art or not?’ critics hollered. Amusingly, (or not, depending on your sense of humour), in the 1920’s even Edward Weston accused pictorial photographers of making ‘pseudo paintings, instead of photographs’. Of course the debate has shifted full circle. Since the 1960’s , the question of whether photography is art became irrelevant with the acceptance of photography into museum collections. But the question once again shifted in the late 1980s to ‘Is it photography?’. It could be said that the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York was not accepting of the depiction, not of art but of photography and in turm, what could be concluded, as photography. Prior to the 1990s MOMA had not given an exhibition to David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman among others. It seems the theory being the work of these artists might have been art, but not photography.
This is an extract of a larger piece of writing that I am working on and it is relevant today in our era of mobile photography and art. We have made huge strides to encompass what we know is the most formidable and time changling art today but we still have further to travel. This weeks mobile photography and showcase, highlights once again the pioneering artists pushing the boundaries, challenging the status quo. Colour and wild creativity flourish, each visionary coherently embracing dreaming, while awake. Enjoy!
Music this week – ‘Ghost’ ©Jacob Lee
Thank you to all the talented artists for submitting your works to our showcase this week. If you would like your work to be considered for entry in to our weekly Mobile Photography and Art Flickr Group, please submit it to our dedicated group, here. You can also submit images to our Instagram tag for this section #mobilephotographyandimagery.
Gianluca Ricoveri, Rita Colantonio, Tuba, Kathy Clay, Fleur Schim, Kate Zari Roberts, Jun Yamaguchi, Candice Railton, Erik Beck, Nick Kenrick, Joseph Cyr, Poetic Medium, Erik Viggh, Susan Blase, jon jon, AleDi Gangi, borisbschulz2009, Catherine Caddigan, Mark Swanson, Johann Veers, Deborah McMillion, Ivan_sl, Francesco Sambati, Cristina Rossi, Clint Cline, Sherrianne100, TheiPhoneArtGirl – Meri Walker, Rob Pearson-Wright, Susan Rennie, Amo Passicos, klimtt – M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, 123ems, Lorenka Campos, Karen Axelrad, Ian Clarke, Tricia Dewey, Ioannis Sidiropoulos, Heather McAlister, Jane Schultz – before.1st.light, p.a.hamel.