Monday, September 27, 2010

Tracy Emin, the newest Black British artist

So, it is now official. Black Britain has claimed one of the country's best known contemporary artists, the irreverent, smart Tracy Emin. It has been revealed that both she and her cousin the Baroness Hussein-Ece are in fact great-grand daughters of a Sudanese slave. Their black slave ancestor was sold to a Cypriot merchant, while their own parents arrived England after WWII from Cyprus. Just when you thought that Emin had put everything about her life, including the kind of stuff that could get readers of Maxim and Ok! magazines tickled, out in the public as works of art. So what happens now?

I suspect that before Emin starts thinking of what to do with her Sudanese ancestry that country's Islamist regime will denounce her, and let the world know that her art is a betrayal of the African woman; a blasphemous gesture unbecoming of someone who has strayed from the faith and the culture. Then they'd make sure she never presents herself as a lost daughter of Sudan and Africa. If you think this is just crazy speculation on my part, remember what happened to Chris Ofili who was denounced by the Nigerian government for debasing the African woman with his dung-breasted Virgin Mary painting.

The more important lesson in all of this though is that history hides so much from us, even as we confront, avoid, or just stare at the intractable idea of race and difference in today's society.

Read the story of Emin's African ancestry in Daily Mail

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