It’s not easy to be a woman in the art world. As Sigrid Kirk highlights in our recent interview, we are working within a structure built by white men many years ago and the onus is on us to carve out space for ourselves against all odds.
Cornelia Parker, Exhaled Cocaine, 1996. Image courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London Incinerated cocaine A thorny run-in with US Customs officials gave me a perverse desire to work with Customs and Excise in the UK. I got to know the team at their Cardiff headquarters over a period of several months. They agreed to give me some confiscated cocaine. They gave me a big black bin-liner full, a million pounds’ worth burnt to a cinder. I love the theatrical way they destroy illicitly smuggled contraband, steamrollering fake Rolex watches or alcohol. Like me, they are often symbolically killing things off.
Cornelia Parker’s work is all about that liminal thing and, in this show at Tate Britain, it looms large. Indeed, one quickly forms the impression that she – intentionally or otherwise – is making the art that this fractured, restless world deserves.