Tracey Emin to represent Britain at Venice Biennale

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The Independent Online

Tracey Emin, the artist best known for her iconic Turner Prize-nominated unmade bed, has been chosen to represent Britain at next year's Venice Biennale.

Emin, only the second solo female artist ever to have been selected for the position in the history of the Biennale, will produce a new work for the British Pavilion for the show.

"I'm thrilled. It's a great honour and a fantastic challenge. I'm very much looking forward to it," she said.

The 52nd Venice Biennale, a major international contemporary art exhibition that takes place in Italy once every two years, opens in June 2007 until November. The British Council, which commissioned Emin for the exhibition, commended the "quality and strength of her work at the moment".

Andrea Rose, the British Council's director of visual arts, said Emin's work had evolved from her days with the Young British Artists of the 1990s, including the likes of Damien Hirst, whose conceptual work often raised controversy in its ability to shock.

Ms Rose added that it was her "story-telling" skills and her "extraordinary ability to scratch away the surfaces to what lies below" rather than her celebrity status that had led the advisory panel to make their decision last week. "This is a great moment to see her work in the context of the Venice Biennale, shown in an international context and at a distance from the YBA generation with which she came to prominence.

"Her work is very British, in the sense that she's focused on content and narrative as opposed to being too overtly bothered by style, and she has a very distinctive voice," she said. Ms Rose said Emin's work reached "just below good taste".

"A good artist is to a degree abandoned and really true to themselves which is what Tracey Emin is. Good taste eviscerates good art, it keeps things in check and under control," she added.

Born in London in 1963, Emin draws on her autobiographical experiences with sometimes shocking intimacy.

Her most famous work remains her Turner-nominated work, My Bed, which was shown at the Tate Gallery in 1999. It consisted of her own unmade bed with the sheets thrown back, littered with condoms and underwear.

But other pieces are just as intimate, such as Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-95, a tent with the names of all her sexual partners sewn into it, and CV Cunt Vernacular, a film in which Emin narrates her story from her childhood in Margate.

She has used media ranging from needlework, videos and photography to drawings and paintings - which formed the main body of her acclaimed exhibition, When I think about Sex, at the White Cube Gallery in east London last year.

The last artists to represent Britain at the Biennale were Gilbert and George in 2005. The only other female artist to have been selected was Rachel Whiteread in 1997.

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