In a recent interview, British artist Tracey Emin said that she had been sexually assaulted by a well-known woman artist, though she did not name her alleged attacker.
“The irony is it happened to be a woman that grabbed hold of my crotch, slammed me against a wall and I threatened to punch her lights out,” Emin told collector Kenny Goss in an interview, as the Sun first reported on Sunday. In a subsequent interview with Radio 4, she added: “Quite often everybody’s making accusations and saying things about men, but it happens with everybody in many, many different circumstances, and people don’t seem to be seeing the whole picture in that harassment is actually bullying in a lot of cases as well.”
Emin was speaking to Goss on the occasion of the upcoming MTV Re:Define, charity auction in Dallas, where she is this year’s honoree. The annual auction raises money to fight the spread of HIV, which was co-founded by the Goss-Michael Foundation and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation.
“What’s the difference if it’s a woman’s doing it or a man doing it?,” she told Goss. “If it’s someone in a higher position of power or someone who thinks they’re going to get away with it because of who they are, that’s what the problem is.”
The revelation came in response to a question about the #MeToo movement, which Emin described as “a good thing,” before adding that she was concerned “people may become afraid to touch each other, and I think that that’s a problem.”
In the subsequent Radio 4 interview — on the occasion of the unveiling of her new, 65-foot-long, anti-Brexit neon work in London’s St. Pancras train station, “I Want My Time With You” (2018) — Emin elaborated on the aftermath of the alleged sexual assault.
“I pushed them away and I actually picked up my fist and I was gonna punch them,” Emin said. “It caused such a scene and I shouted and told everybody what the person had done, much to their humiliation and embarrassment. I don’t think they’ll be doing it again in a hurry.” She did not offer any further details about when or where the alleged attack had occurred, though Emin did note that she was not famous yet while her attacker was quite successful.
“Yeah I’ve been sexually harassed,” she added. “I think the majority of women have been at some time, and all of us have got our stories to tell about it and I think it’s quite good that it’s coming to the foreground.”
Emin, who was one of the core members of the Young British Artists (YBAs) in the 1990s, caused a sensation with her installation “My Bed” (1998), which was included in the 1999 Turner Prize exhibition (though that year’s prize ultimately went to Steve McQueen). In 2014, “My Bed” sold at Christie’s in London for $4.3 million, setting an auction record for Emin and establishing her as one of the most expensive women artists alive. Although, as she puts it in her conversation with Goss, if she were a man, her work would be worth “ten times” as much.
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