diamond geezer

 Saturday, June 09, 2012

She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea - Tracey Emin
Turner Contemporary, Margate

(26 May - 23 September 2012)

It's taken a year, but Margate's new art gallery has finally paid tribute to the town's second-favourite artist. JMW Turner's still number 1, but he's had his major moment in the limelight, and now it's Tracey's turn. She's produced a suite of newly-produced work, and it fills four of the galleries at this fledgling coastal attraction. A fluorescent nude greets you at the top of the stairs - you'd expect nothing less - reclining and pert in a few simple linked curves. She's hot on simple, is Ms Emin, as the repetitive displays in the next gallery reveal. An abundance of female genitalia is on view, all in much the same shade of royal blue, all of it representative of the artist herself. It's hard not to stare, to be honest, particularly at the central casually suggestive squiggle. There's plenty of text-based art too, also blue, in briefly ambiguous emotional scrawl. It's clever how the phrases evoke meaning in so little, but not clever enough to make you want to buy the t-shirt in the shop downstairs. Nextdoor, more of the same, plus an empty steel bath and some beautifully intricate labial tapestry. The exhibition's not all by Tracey, you may be pleased to hear - a few of Turner's lesser known female nudes have also been wheeled out. Ditto Rodin on the adjacent wall, while his famous statue The Kiss takes pride of place in the main lobby overlooking the sea [odd photo]. Further Emins round things off, with erotic lines made arty through embroidery, and a mucky Heals mattress which at first appears to be white with brown stains but on closer inspection reveals itself as brown with white. She's created more imaginative work, and flown with more diversionary ideas, but the overall effect remains as self-revelatory as you'd expect. You might get more out of the exhibition if you hire Tracey's words and thoughts on audio, but don't be surprised if it's all a bit much, and simultaneously not enough. [watch some]

Horizon - John Smith
Turner Contemporary, Margate

(1 - 17 June 2012)

On a completely different tack, crammed into a makeshift mini-theatre downstairs, is this ever-so-simple film of the sea. East London professor John Smith pointed a camera out of the Turner Contemporary's window over the course of three months, then stitched together the results into a rhythmic 18 minute loop. The top half of the screen's always sky, the lower half always sea, with the horizon the only unchanging feature across the centre. The scene switches in the time it takes a wave to beat once, perhaps stormily beneath leaden grey clouds, then to rippling blue calm, then to another random day's Margate panorama. Most of the time nothing happens, but occasionally a gull flies through, or a boat sails past, to create a fictional sense of interest. Only once does low tide intrude, and only once does the sun set, otherwise it's choppy bleakness pretty much all the way. It's terribly repetitive, yet strangely alluring, and I reckon it's a good test of artistic appreciation if you can bear to sit through the whole thing. Most couldn't. I could. And, sorry Tracey, I preferred this. [watch some]

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