Postcards from Emin and friends

The bad girl of British art curates an exhibition of female artists at Frieze to celebrate a century of female political empowerment – with postcard-sized works going on sale in a secret auction

The Another World exhibition, curated by Tracey Emin, brings together some 60 pieces from female artists including Louise Bourgeois, Maggi Hambling and Marlene Dumas, with postcard-sized works up for sale
The Another World exhibition, curated by Tracey Emin, brings together some 60 pieces from female artists including Louise Bourgeois, Maggi Hambling and Marlene Dumas, with postcard-sized works up for sale

For Frieze this year, Tracey Emin has curated two female-focused exhibitions and a charity postcard sale to acknowledge a century of women’s suffrage in the UK. Another World brings together some 60 pieces from female artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Maggi Hambling and Marlene Dumas, all of whom have works in Deutsche Bank’s permanent collection. The show takes place in the fair’s VIP lounge, which has been sponsored by the bank since the Frieze event launched in 2003. A sister exhibition will be installed across the park in the VIP lounge at Frieze Masters, showing replica postcards from the 1900s Votes For Women campaign, on loan from the Museum of London.

A piece by Tracey Emin
A piece by Tracey Emin | Image: Nigel Rubenstein

Besides these two parallel installations, Emin has asked female artists in the Deutsche Bank collection to create new postcard-sized works to be sold anonymously for charity, following the format established by the Royal College of Art’s well-known RCA Secret postcard auction. Emin tells me she’s liked the covert format ever since her alma mater introduced it in 1994. “It’s fair, it’s fun and everything literally has an equal value,” she says. “So you buy something purely because you like it and not for who made it.”

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Eight hundred works by 220 artists have been donated in aid of Havering and Bromley & Croydon Women’s Aid, Oasis Domestic Abuse Service in Margate, Street Talk in Lambeth and The Maya Centre in Islington. “All women’s charities are important to me,” Emin says. “So it was hard deciding which ones to support, but between the five of us on the committee I think we chose fairly.” Emin, whose artistic expression of her own struggles and pain gives her work its poignant power, found it “heartbreaking” to hear the criteria for each charity they considered. “I can’t help but think that women do suffer more in the world on the whole,” she says, “whether it’s through forced prostitution, human trafficking or, most commonly, sexual or violent abuse.”

Artwork by Marlene Dumas
Artwork by Marlene Dumas | Image: Nigel Rubenstein

On the subject of today’s conditions for women emerging into the art world, Emin feels “the most exciting thing today is that there are so many young female artists. It was a rare occurrence for a young female artist to even have a show 30 years ago.” Compared to when she graduated, “things are changing, but still too slowly,” she says. “I won’t even go into the price difference between male and female artists’ work, but, believe me, it’s astronomical.”

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