Tracey Emin has revealed that she deliberately set out to be provocative when she was asked by the Royal Academy to hang a gallery in its Summer Exhibition because she thought that was what was expected of her.
At the entrance to the room curated by Emin at the annual art show stands the warning: "There are works in this gallery that are shocking."
Inside, the gallery contains a giant automated black and white image of a zebra having sex with a pneumatic blonde woman entitled In The Old Fashioned Way by Matt Collishaw, a pink rubber sculpture of penises and fingers which casts a shadow in the shape of two heads on the wall by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, a triangle of red pubic hair on a plinth by Michael Fullerton and photographs of a woman's genitals during menstruation by Elke Krystufek. There is also a video of a naked woman hula-hooping with a ring of barbed wire by Sigalit Landau and a painting of a topless woman with no nipples, entitled Rupert Murdoch's Third Wife (Wendy Deng), again by Fullerton.
"I didn't want to be shocking, but I wanted to be provocative. I wanted to give the Royal Academy what is expected of me," said Emin. Although there have been reports that some Royal Academicians are outraged by Emin's selection of artworks, the artist, once the enfant terrible of Brit Art, who is a newly appointed RA herself, said: "I've had the most brilliant support from the majority of the RA. They selected me, it's not a war. I'm already on their side. I've worked really hard, I'm professional and diligent."
She added: "I wanted amateur artists next to established artists. I wanted to hang low and hang high. But at the same time, I wanted to bring something to the Royal Academy which would encourage people who wouldn't normally enter to enter, younger people and also a different audience."
Despite the warning attached to the gallery, Emin is convinced of its appeal. She said: "The nice middle-aged ladies of Middle England, I think they can't wait to get in this room, then they're going to go 'ah, penises, ah vaginas, ah beautiful ceramics. I haven't got a bush like that, I wish I had. Ruskin banned pubic hair, how come it's in here now?'"
Only one of Emin's own works is included in the gallery – Ruined, an oil painting that looks up between a woman's V-shaped legs, which she showed at the 2007 Venice Biennale. The painting was a last-minute choice as Emin had planned to hang a new work of her own, but found it faded into the background.
In front of the painting stands an untitled sculpture of a sack by Louise Bourgeois. "It's understated, but it works brilliantly with the Louise Bourgeois," Emin said. "It's a fucking good painting, for all those bastards who slagged me off in Venice. I'm really happy with the whole show."