The National - News 30 Jan 2019 - Rupert Hawksley

Marc Quinn has described the emergence of the Young British Artists (YBA's), including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, in the 1990s as "like the birth of the universe". Quinn, best known for his 1991 sculpture, Self, a self-portrait created using 10 pints of his own blood, also claimed that "the defining thing about the YBA's [was] bringing real like into art". 

Speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival last week, Quinn said, "It was an amazing time, a perfect storm. There was [art collector] Charles Saatchi, who has his museum and who was willing to show untested art. There was a recession, so art collectors didn't want to spend money, they wanted to buy cheap art. And there was the legacy of punk, so people of my generation there thinking: 'We're not going to wait for some gallery to show our work, we'll just fo it ourselves.' All these things came together and it was a big explosion...It's like the birth of the universe, all this cloud and gas, which then solidifies into different things afterwards."

Asked about the legacy of the YBA's and their work, such and Hirst's pickled shark and Emin's unmade bed, Quinn explained that it was the group's willingness to bring "real life into art" that was so important. "That hadn't been done quite as viscerally before," he said. "And I think that the contribution we've made."

Quinn added: "It's [also] good to be called 'young' when you're in your 50's, I like that."

The visual artist was at the Jaipur Literature Festival to speak about his latest, as yet, unseen, installation, Bloodcube, which will be on display outside the New York Public Library. The piece comprises a pair of metre by metre cubes, each one filled with blood drawn from more than 5,000 people. 

One cube is filled with the blood od refugees; the other with blood from people who live in their country of birth. The cubes are indistinguishable. Quinn explained that this non-profit artwork highlights the fact that all humans fundamentally, are the same. "It is about equality of voice," he said. "[The cubes] are like DNA libraries. All these people are [put] together, from every religion, from every race, from every country and ideology," Quinn continued. It's as if they're crushed together like the people in some of the [refugee] boats we saw in 2015. But they have to come together to make this incredibly solid block."

Bloodcube is accompanied by a video, which features the words of those who gave blood for the project, including Bono, Jude Law and Sting. "How come some people are so valued by society and others are so unvalued?" asked Quinn. "I wanted to put them on the same level, and blood is such a common denominator."

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