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PRINT December 2004

ON THE GROUND

London

UNLESS SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENS VERY SOON, 2004 will go down in the annals of British art history as the Year of the Momart Fire. And—without denying that the immolation of over a hundred artworks (including key pieces by Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Patrick Heron, and Gillian Ayres) in an allegedly undermonitored East London storage unit is a disaster for all concerned—that’s a shame. Not only because it’s impossible, in retrospect, to separate the event from gleeful attempts by British mainstream journalists to spin it as a supremely appropriate Viking funeral for Young British Art (note to newspaper editors: For all intents and purposes YBA died years ago), but because in the London art world this year was primarily about anything but destruction. Mostly, it was about building.

In fact, it was more about building than about art, with most of the action occurring at the

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