The weather was cold and wet, not worth staying home for, so, little trip down Margate seem liked a good idea. The white angular Turner Contemporary, is a stark contrast to the historic Margate seafront and light years away from the Dreamland amusement park at the other end of the prom.
The Contemporary’s current exhibition, pairing Tracey Emin’s infamous “bed” with original Turner seascapes, seemed incongruous. Until you remember, Turner was as eccentric and controversial in his day, as Emin and the rest of the Young British Art movement were in the nineties.
On it’s own in the middle of the Gallery floor, Turners hung behind, “the bed” looked a little like something that had been dropped from the sky. Dirty underwear and rumpled sheets, empty bottles, cigarette stubs and condoms, yellowing a little and showing their twenty years of age.
It was like a story part told, the action stopped unfinished. Surprisingly, the Turners have the same quality, sea frozen, stopped as the waves crashed. Two moments in time, captured, centuries apart.
The end of the story came from Emin’s video narrative of the bed’s reconstruction, it brought humanity I had not previously seen. “The bed” was her chaotic world and it’s conception changed that world, catapulting her into the art world’s spotlight.
For Emin, twenty years on, she is voluntarily dry, celibate and non smoking. What ever you may think of it as art, it is possible that “the bed” saved at least one life.
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