When this bed was first shown to the public, it caused quite a storm - critics argued continually about how it wasn't art, that it could not be seen as even contemporary art. Many were derisive of it, very tellingly most of them were middle-class white men with more than a thick vein of misogyny running through them. It was short-listed for the Turner prize but missed it. It caused even more uproar when Charles Saatchi bought it for £150,000.
Many cringed over the detritus (condom wrappers, stained underwear and cigarette butts) and couldn't figure what this was all about. Now, I must admit, I couldn't see the art in it - but eventually I did appreciate the story. A girl - messy, incoherent, suicidal: trying to come to grips with her life. Sixteen years later, Emin herself feels it is all very surreal. She doesn't live like that anymore, has given up smoking and as she says, it is a million miles away from the person she is today. It has hit the news again as Saatchi is auctioning it at Christies, hoping to net between £850,000 - £1.2 million.
Predictably, there will be a storm of controversy again albeit less severe - one thing you can say about it, it has been an interesting story that will run and run and run. Pity about the fate of the tent, as I found that more interesting as it was about sharing intimate space. Saatchi allegedly is using the money to buy more young artists' work. I am pleased that Paxman didn't tear her to shreds and at least listened.