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Author Topic: Tracey Emin  (Read 992 times)

Rob C

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Tracey Emin
« on: November 29, 2016, 05:16:56 PM »

Just been watching a couple of video interviews with Tracey Emin; I wasn't a fan when she was in the 'bed' era, but listening to her speaking at the age of fifty, she seems quite a bright and interesting woman.

I feel I've almost run out of photographers to absorb; perhaps it's time to dig more deeply into the other arts. How wonderful had van Gogh been able to leave us a video interview.

Rob

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2016, 05:31:51 PM »

I am often overwhelmed by the volume of talent that is out there. Much of it contemporary. By young-ish photographers. Of course, many of them do not have documentaries made about them, yet, but may be interesting nevertheless.

You seem to be drawn to the somewhat dysthymic types of artists. Have you looked into Sally Mann? I'm just discovering Eggleston in any depth, prompted by the recent NYT interview with him. He's got a recent high quality trio of books titled Chromes ($300) and there is an 8 part (?) series on him by the BBC which can be found on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/gGR6_H-G17c

I have not seen it yet.
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George

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Otto Phocus

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2016, 06:59:28 AM »

At least I had to look up what dysthymic meant so I gots some learnin'.   ;D
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Rob C

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2016, 09:18:01 AM »

I am often overwhelmed by the volume of talent that is out there. Much of it contemporary. By young-ish photographers. Of course, many of them do not have documentaries made about them, yet, but may be interesting nevertheless.

You seem to be drawn to the somewhat dysthymic types of artists. Have you looked into Sally Mann? I'm just discovering Eggleston in any depth, prompted by the recent NYT interview with him. He's got a recent high quality trio of books titled Chromes ($300) and there is an 8 part (?) series on him by the BBC which can be found on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/gGR6_H-G17c

I have not seen it yet.

Yes, I think that a rather dim view of life and humanity becomes par for the course, unless you are very young or innocent.

On the other hand, this may not be the main thing that leads one there; even stronger a force is a lifetime in professional art, whether paint, pencil, design, photography, music, or whatever. The measures of worth/success are random, arbitrary, and that makes for serious spiritual problems, if not mental ones - I believe there's a distinct distinction.

You see, even success, as such, isn't often enough to bring contentment: there is always the danger of self-doubt, brought on by the tiniest incident, remark or even an observation of one's own. Am I really any good? Are my clients just idiots who, did they know better, would hire somebody else? Would Joe Bloggs have done it better? What is better? Did I pick the wrong models? Is my mojo coming back? Has it gone or was it even ever here?

I suspect any artist who claims never to have had these moments is being econmical with his self-revelation. As I wrote when I came in, I feel that only a young person can go through a part of life without doubt. I don't think I had professional doubts when I began, and the ones that came later were not exactly about myself, but very much about the people for whom I did shoots. Some few were fantastic, but some were a minefield of insincerity. No wonder some folks end up unable to cope with the enormity of it, and take the quick way out. I say enormity, because unlike some other occupations, it's personal (photography), deeply personal; why else would one take it on? On top of that, an artist can't really hide behind retirement; retirement usually means one thing: the 'phone stopped ringing. I can't think of another reason why one would quit, unless it's about health, economics and the problem of work costing you more than you can get back. I found that towards the end of my time shooting stock. So one not so much retires as withdraws.

Thank God there is also the "amateur" side of photography, where if you ignore the model world and its costs, you can still enjoy your self-expression. Digital makes a lot of that possible in later life.

Sally Mann I have known about for a long time; I was originally in two minds about her insofar as the pix of her kids are concerned, but I have concluded that she did it all in good faith, and didn't let other people take a hand at doing the same with them (AFAIK!). That would have been something very else. But her photography is much wider in scope than that.

Eggleston isn't one of my favourites. I think he does the odd nice picture, but more often than not, of what I've been able to see, I think he just snaps the first thing that he stumbles across. But that may just be economic envy on my part, even I can't really tell.

For me, the problem with young contemporary snappers is that I'm not in love with their world. The same is true about young fashion photographers; I far prefer looking at stuff from the older guys that I knew about in my own day. For many, time has not made them irrelevant, just very expensive!

Rob

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2016, 10:00:21 AM »

Eggleston is interesting to me. I would agree that his work has been "over adored" and over analyzed for what they really are. I think most of his work is now imbued with nostalgia, but it was not originally.

On the other hand, some of his snapshots do just blow me away and I have to concede that there is something in his 'eye' that is note worthy. It is also clear that he took volumes of these snap shots and his fame came when he took on someone who found the great few among the mountains of mundane. This is not necessarily a slight on his work. Thomas Wolfe was the same way. In fact, it turns out he was probably over-edited in Look Homeward Angel. A less chopped version of the novel under the original title of O' Lost was published a while back and is significantly better. Maybe Eggleston should revisit his film boxes?

Doubt in life, whatever portion of it, is something we have to deal with. Like you, in some ways I have more as I get older. In some ways I have less. You mention the spiritual. I have less doubt in regard to the spiritual life than ever in my life, and have found that such assurance eclipses and ameliorates the eroding effect that other doubt can have.

I have long contended that the things I like to do: photography, cook, write, carpentry are, to me, all delightful amateur endeavors that would make me miserable to no end if I had to do them professionally and not just for lack of skill.
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George

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Rob C

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2016, 11:30:44 AM »

George,

Turned on the Eggleston vid to realise that I've seen it already; the BBC's Mr Yentob (who also did a better film on William Klein - superior raw material?) perpetuates the myth of Eggleston being the great introducer of colour into the world of art photography. That's part of what I was referring to in my earlier post, about the arbitrary and messed-up nature of the industry: people talk crap, either maliciously or simply because they don't know their subject well enough, and just because they have a hold on the means of public communication, it becomes gospel as soon as it leaves their lips. Or pen, as the case may be. Hence the angst-laden souls outwith the magic circle - or even within.

Rob

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2016, 11:58:10 AM »

Yes. I noticed he was associated with Warhol and that bunch. To me that screams fame first, talent second. I think Eggleston has settled in to his role as eccentric elder statesman but suspect that too is an affectation in part.

Still, I am moved by a good many of his photos and give him due credit for them. And while he may not be the color pioneer they make him to be, I still like the way he sees things. If nothing else it lends me a way of looking at the world around me in a different way, photographically speaking, and silences my complaints that "there is nothing to photograph around here" which is usually a cop out or laziness rather than actual lack of inspiration.

And yes, he wallows in the banal but even that leads me places. I think about Wolfe's:

“. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.

Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.

Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

O waste of lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this weary, unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?

O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.”

That simple stone, or leaf or door can serve as the stimulus to remember that lost language, the lost connection between others. Does Eggleston rise to that task? I'm not sure. But maybe.
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George

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Rob C

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2016, 01:16:54 PM »

Yes. I noticed he was associated with Warhol and that bunch. To me that screams fame first, talent second. I think Eggleston has settled in to his role as eccentric elder statesman but suspect that too is an affectation in part.

Still, I am moved by a good many of his photos and give him due credit for them. And while he may not be the color pioneer they make him to be, I still like the way he sees things. If nothing else it lends me a way of looking at the world around me in a different way, photographically speaking, and silences my complaints that "there is nothing to photograph around here" which is usually a cop out or laziness rather than actual lack of inspiration.

And yes, he wallows in the banal but even that leads me places. I think about Wolfe's:

“. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.

Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.

Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

O waste of lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this weary, unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?

O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.”

That simple stone, or leaf or door can serve as the stimulus to remember that lost language, the lost connection between others. Does Eggleston rise to that task? I'm not sure. But maybe.


And yet again, the power of words is greater than that of pictures.

On a more banal level, it's why I think simple captions or titles usually help images along. Ambiguity is all very well, but sometimes it demands even more from a viewer than he/she might be able to bring to the party, possibly even more than the shooter had when he went click. Perhaps I need more written material in order to "understand" our William a little better.

;-)

Rob

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2016, 03:42:03 PM »

With van Gogh at least we have his letters. They're a deep and wonderful read if you're so inclined. You can dip in & out of them, in or out of chronological order. The same is true of Montaigne, who essentially invented the essay and who might well have been a photographer in addition to his other pursuits had he been born a few hundred years later. Sally Mann's recent autobio is a terrific read. In fact I think I like her writing better than her photos.

I find doubt, self- and otherwise, to be a strong motivator. The things I'm least certain of are what I'm most drawn to. But I admit to being a weirdo.  ;)

-Dave-
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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2016, 07:51:58 PM »

For letters that frankly and often bluntly expose the creative process of a great artist, I'd recommend the letters of Flannery O'Connor. They are brutally funny at times but also direct and to the point, unlike Faulkner who might answer the same question differently every time it was asked. I was never sure whether Faulkner was intentionally evasive, couldn't remember why he did something or was simply drunk (and yet he remains, for me, the greatest modern writer). O'Connor was extremely introverted, lived a sad and isolated life and died at a young age of lupus and yet her letters betray no self pity and no significant melancholy. Which is refreshing as a lot of artist do fall into solipsism and self pity. Her wit was fierce and her critique of other writers was equally biting at times but usually on point.

I've recently obtained a copy of Eudora Welty's letters. I'm not all that excited about them, but I mention her because she was a writer and a photographer. Her photography was mediocre.
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George

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2016, 08:46:06 PM »

Rob, my brother recently sent me a copy of Eggleston's The Democratic Forest: Selected Works. The photos are nicely printed. The selections are not from his most well known images. Only a few of them really catch my imagination but as I leafed through them I told my wife that there was something evocative about the familiar things seen from different perspective.

Later I noticed that at the end of the book there was a quote from Eudora Welty:

What is there, however strange, can be accepted without question; familiarity will be what overwhelms us.

This should have been at the front of the book in my opinion as it says so much about Eggleston's work. I do not know if it was in reference to Eggleston's pictures or not but I think it was since there is a quote from her in the front of the book that mentions him by name.

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George

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Rob C

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2016, 04:49:58 AM »

Rob, my brother recently sent me a copy of Eggleston's The Democratic Forest: Selected Works. The photos are nicely printed. The selections are not from his most well known images. Only a few of them really catch my imagination but as I leafed through them I told my wife that there was something evocative about the familiar things seen from different perspective.

Later I noticed that at the end of the book there was a quote from Eudora Welty:

What is there, however strange, can be accepted without question; familiarity will be what overwhelms us.

This should have been at the front of the book in my opinion as it says so much about Eggleston's work. I do not know if it was in reference to Eggleston's pictures or not but I think it was since there is a quote from her in the front of the book that mentions him by name.

I wonder about that; there's such a thing as desensitization, as in war imagery, charity appeals and so on... at first we get hit in the groin, but later, possibly to our own shame and embarrassment, we react with anger at yet another demand on the conscience. Strikes me as the very opposite to the Welty position.

I have the impression that Mr E is as dumbfounded by his success as am I. But he plays the rôle very well!

Rob

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2016, 08:31:35 AM »

To return briefly to the subject: I think Tracy Emin is an excellent writer. I'm not sure that makes her an excellent artist, because I don't know the definition, but she is worth reading.
It's interesting that she is now a professor of drawing: I wonder then if she is actually gifted at drawing, or whether that is simply an archaic title applied to the post by tradition. Maybe now that Literature departments are filled with second-rate philosophers, we need to go to visual arts departments to find writers?
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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2016, 10:30:23 AM »

I think you mostly need to look outside of academia for good writers. I can think of a few notable exceptions.
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George

"What is truth?" Pontius  Pilate

Rob C

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2016, 03:42:42 PM »

I think that it's rather difficult to come to real conclusions about the relative merits of writers, photographers and so forth; much of it has to end up as a subjective judgement...

For myself, I long ago concluded that the best artists in contemporary life seem to come from Jewish roots. Without doubt, Jewish humour is, to me, the sharpest I have found. Perhaps that's why the movie and tv industries are as they are. I have little doubt that exposure opportunities also play a massive rôle, and then we come right back to ownership of media and galleries etc. and one might argue that the Jewish presence might be slanted upwards due to understandable preferences within those industries, but as I'm sure nobody would consciously turn away a good financial bet wherever it comes from, that may not hold many gallons as a theory. Without a doubt, my favourite photographers were/are mostly Jewish. Maybe they feel, and therefore express emotion more deeply? Perhaps long persecution has bred into them not only an escape through words and images, but also a strength in those occupations?

However it is, I'm so glad that those who made it into my ken did so; I owe them a debt of gratitude for a lot of pleasure.

Rob

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Re: Tracey Emin
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2016, 06:46:36 PM »

I think that it's rather difficult to come to real conclusions about the relative merits of writers, photographers and so forth; much of it has to end up as a subjective judgement...

I agree to an extent. But I think there are those who stand above subjectivism. They are usually dead before that happens. I can acknowledge the capacity for talent and genius even if I don't 'like' the product of that talent and genius. And I have found that the widely acclaimed 'greats' are usually just that even if at first glance the do not appear so. I think of Harold Bloom's book the Western Canon. He pretty much says that there is one and only one at the top: Shakespeare. Hard to argue. He then puts Cervantes and Dante after Bill. Yuck, I thought. Who wants to read that crap? But I did anyway, but only after finding good translations. I was blown away by the Divine Comedy and Don Quixote. Still am. Objective greatness in my opinion.

Quote
For myself, I long ago concluded that the best artists in contemporary life seem to come from Jewish roots. Without doubt, Jewish humour is, to me, the sharpest I have found.


I think environments and backgrounds have an effect on groups of people in ways that promote certain traits and styles. I think that isolation, discrimination and even persecution can lead to ways of dealing with life that promote humor, music, literature, etc.

My mind immediately turns to Mississippi and the delta in particular. Isolation, poverty, poor education, discrimination, class struggles, oppression....and yet, there is probably no region is the US, on a per capita basis, that has turned out so many artists of global importance, from Faulkner to BB King to Tennessee Williams to Sam Cooke and the list goes on. Most of whom rose up against all odds and all conventional recipes for the incubation for talent and genius.
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George

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