British artist Tracey Emin demanded Thursday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office remove an artwork of hers reading More Passion, saying it did not need further encouragement to party.
Emin donated the red neon sign to Downing Street in 2011, when David Cameron was Britain’s leader.
The work, and other neon displays she has created, were common at “funfairs, casinos, bars or whatever”, the Turner-Prize nominated artist, 58, told BBC radio.
But she added: “I really do not feel that Number 10 needs any encouragement on this level.
“I want it taken down and this government, I will tell you what they need, they need compassion. That’s what they need, not passion. They don’t need more party atmospheres.”
Johnson is facing demands to resign over revelations that his staff held frequent parties during COVID-19 lockdowns over the past two years.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said Downing Street was open to Emin’s request.
“We’ll obviously now discuss the location of the work with the artist, and I believe it will remain part of the Government Art Collection that displays works in a number of locations,” he told reporters.
Emin was once seen as an enfant terrible herself, making her name with eye-opening, often sexually provocative works, alongside a disarmingly frank public persona.
But she has become part of the art establishment, representing Britain at the Venice Biennale and becoming a professor of art at the prestigious Royal Academy.
Emin’s neon sculpture I Want My Time With You was displayed at London’s St Pancras Station – the terminus for cross-Channel Eurostar trains – in a “subliminal message” against Brexit.
“Most of us are obeying the (COVID-19) rules in every single way because this pandemic has affected everybody so terribly,” she said.
“And this government doesn’t seem to care about that.”