Tracy Emin Supposed Plagiarizer Opens Library

February 11, 2008 · Print This Article

Tracy Emin has been in the news twice this past week. Emin is currently one of six artists being considered for a £300,000 ($436,717.30) commission for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. According to, “The Fourth Plinth is in the north-west of Trafalgar Square, in central London. Built in 1841, it was originally intended for an equestrian statue but was empty for many years. It is now the location for specially commissioned art works.” Emin’s proposal is for a small cluster of meerkats standing on one side of the plinth.

Steve Henry, who is the creative director of TBWA, claims that Emin’s proposal is totally jocking on an advertisement his company did for E.on which depicts a cluster of meerkats standing on boxes. Emin denies having seen the advertisement: “I haven’t been influenced by any advertising campaign in my life. The fact is that I adore meerkats. I have drawings of meerkats from 12 years ago. I’m completely besotted by the creatures. A plinth is not a box … they have to be standing on a plinth as it’s in Trafalgar Square.”

Other artists being considered are Jeremy Deller, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Yinka Shonibare, and Bob & Roberta Smith.

In other news Emin will be inaugurating the Tracy Emin Library on February 18th in Uganda. The library will function as a center for adult literacy and computer skills, and will also serve 800 students between the ages of 12 to 18. Emin worked with the charity organization in order to build the library.

10 thoughts on “Tracy Emin Supposed Plagiarizer Opens Library”

  1. Christopher says:

    I can not wait until the general public can just accept there are a finite number of arangements that can be made and understood (or “read”) by more then a group of 10. I never cared who came up with the idea first but who refined it enough to make it acessable and interesting.

    What is the parody/copyright law in the UK? I read a while back that they recently ajusted their Public domain law to a max of 50 years. Which is so much more realistic then the Life+70 years for any work after 2002. Thanks Eisner.

  2. duncan says:

    I don’t believe her, but also that sculpture would be kinda lame.

    Especially, from the angry queen of confession. What is this silly kid friendly crap? I saw her big show in Venice and the relationship to this could not be more bizarre. WTF? The art world continues to amaze me.

    please see…

  3. Tony Fitzpatrick says:


    If you knew her, believe me , you’d like her…. she is your kind of nuts.

  4. duncan says:

    Maybe she will come to town and we can sit down. I loved that tent.

  5. In this and the Lead Pencil controversy you mention above, something keeps getting missed. That is, the relationship of Neo-Conceptual art to “one-liner” comedy. Not every artist is “on” all the time, we all have some weak works. In the case of a Neo-Con that usually means a weak or silly idea, instead of weak brushwork or unconvincing form or whatever. And weak ideas, like not-so-good jokes, often are already around. I don’t think it is intentional stealing, just a stumble, — frail or perhaps tired ideas that then inadvertently repeat something else rather frail. Each of these artists have other, very strong works. But, yes, also some pretty strong groaners. Like Henny Youngman?

  6. Christopher says:

    Should it even matter, even on a conceptual level, really especially on a conceptual level. The whole conceptual idea is that it’s value lay not in the execution but the concept it exposes. So if that is true it would be more impressive and technically harder to create a extremely derivative work that brings something “conceptually” new or better then the piece it is highly dependent on?

    Isn’t the argument against derivative neo-con art in fact an argument against conceptual art since it treats ideas in the same way you would modernistic media. That of a unique snowflake that occurs only once in nature and hence has high value?

    More of a question then statement, please correct me.

  7. MSB says:

    Yeah Chris, I kind of with you on that — although of course if the interest is supposed to lie in an intriguing idea, then the idea can’t be old hat either. I guess that rather proves: first, that Conceptualism and perhaps Neo-Conc are indeed still in fact Modernism, albeit Late Modernism, rather than truly anything post-that (which is not necessarily bad, mind you).

    — And second that no matter what we all learn and mouth about ‘death of the author,’ ‘slipping signifiers’ and so on, in truth most artworld-ians still operate on Modernist “make it new” values. The Deconstructivist “nothing is new” was rather hypocritical anyway, usually involving the belief that addition “but it is new to say that” or something.

    I personally find the controversy silly, if amusing, as most Neo-Con is so Academic (in both senses) that it is indeed a play with pre-chewed ideas. Thus in the end, for such a work, the only value judgment can be sophistic — was it a success or not as an attention graber. Several of the works discussed here are, on the other hand, quite beautiful, whatever the source, making them more than quotidian. And there is just the plan fact that certain ideas are “in the air” in any time period, especially in one dominated by academic conceits, so overlap often occurs without purposeful stealing (I know of examples in Mannerism, the Renaissance, several parts of of Modernism like Pop, Expressionism, even historical Conceptualism.)

    And Photos of art are much different than art itself, of course.

  8. Beejay says:

    As a student of Natural History Illustration, I’d just like to point out that when somebody does works depicting animals they will more often than not use poses/stances that are readily identified with the animal.
    Meerkats are well known for their ‘stand and scout’ behaviour; one or two climbing up on handy trees, stumps, rocks or mounds in order to keep an eye out for predators or other dangers while the rest of the group is foraging.
    In most countries with copyright laws artists are unable to claim rights over common knowledge (and animal behaviour definately classes as common knowledge); only over the particularities of the piece in question that makes it original.
    Since the medium, purpose and arrangements of the two pieces are different; to me it appears that all Henry is trying to claim – the use of meerkats and their stances and group arrangement – are all common knowledge and therefore invalid copyright claims.

  9. yes I'm in the know says:

    Hi, I was wondering how close Tracy’s film ‘Top Spot’ was to the Novel VIRGINITY “is that it?” by Karen Louise Taylor, but not set in Margate in the eighties but a small seaside town called Redcar in the 1980’s of five girls coming of age and the sixth committing suicide in the Bathroom. And the nightclub called ‘Top Deck’? Released in 2002? Now a titled film “is that it?”

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