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Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK


True confessions and coming clean

Why I Never Became a Dancer, by Tracey Emin

Always a cause for controversy, this year's £20,000 Turner's Prize looks set to follow suit.

The four artists shortlisted for the prize include self-confessed mad woman Tracey Emin, and washing machine enthusiast Steven Pippin.

None of the artists works with the more traditional paint and brush. Nonetheless, jury member Alice Rawsthorn said the list was chosen on merit of work shown in the last year.

[ image: Steve Pippin: Laundry from the inside]
Steve Pippin: Laundry from the inside
"It's not the medium, it's what it says. To have added a painter in a tokenistic way would have belittled the painters who have shown this year," she said.

Last year's Turner prize was won by a painter - Chris Ofili.

But since he delighted in daubing his canvases with elephant dung, his style could hardly be deemed conventional.

True confessions

The Turner Prize is awarded to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the 12 months preceding 16 May 1999.

This year's final four have been chosen from a list of 160 submissions.

Tracey Emin, 35, has been included for the "vibrancy, flair and self-expression" of her shows in Japan and New York.

Calling herself Mad Tracey from Margate, her work is as colourful and distinctive as her character and life.

[ image: Tracey Emin: Sobasex]
Tracey Emin: Sobasex
She sprang to notoriety in 1995 with her piece Everyone I Have Ever Slept with, a tent embroidered with 102 names.

Other works in neon, embroidery and line drawings also draw on her troubled past of rape at 13, an abortion, drink and teenage promiscuity.

Sacha Craddock, a member of the jury, hailed her as a serious and influential artist.

"We are absolutely delighted to include Tracey in the shortlist. Her work asks very basic questions about the meaning of art and life. She is a great influence on many young artists and students," she said.

In a spin

Surrey-born Steven Pippin, 38, is likely to exhibit Laundromat-Locomotion, a row of 12 commercial washing machines that also take photographs.

The judges at the Tate were suitably impressed with the "ambition" of this exploration of vision and motion.

Earlier in his career, he demonstrated a passion for making cameras out of furniture.

[ image: Steven Pippin: Terrestrial]
Steven Pippin: Terrestrial
These two artists are joined by the London film maker Steve McQueen, and twins Jane and Louise Wilson, who work together.

McQueen, 29, is best known for Deadpan, his tribute to Buster Keaton, in which he re-enacts one of Keaton's famous stunts.

The twins have been singled out for the "wit and intelligence" of their piece Gamma - a four-screen video installation shot inside Greenham Common airbase.

Public interest in the competition is traditionally high. Nearly 120,000 people visited the exhibition last year.

The Tate Gallery sees the enthusiasm for the Turner Prize as part of a general trend.

"It is an indication of the growth of interest in contemporary British," said a spokesman.

[ image: The Wilson twins: Gamma]
The Wilson twins: Gamma
The kind of works on display at this year's exhibition should prove as much as a draw as usual.

They will also allow the public to draw their own conclusions as to which of the four artists should take away the booty.

The five genuine judges, who include the Tate's Director Nicholas Serota, will announce their decision during a live Channel 4 broadcast on 30 November.

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