Tracey Emin, "Love Is What I Want" Hayward Gallery.
Emin quite heavily influenced most of my 'work' throughout my foundation, and if I’d continued to study art there's a likelihood I’d have just become a less good version of her. So probably for the best I’m doing curation...
But that doesn't mean i forgot about her- purchasing her book One Thousand Drawings, recently reading Strangeland and attending an exhibition of hers and Louise Bourgeois at the Hausier and Wirth gallery called Do Not Abandon Me. All of which I LOVED, so I was really excited to hear about her upcoming exhibition at the Hayward.
My love for Emin is not something I talk about too loudly as I’m aware of how heavily criticised she is...A LOT. When looking at some of her monoprints online, one critic wrote: "I wish Emin would stop banging on about her abortion." Oh my, how rude...Clearly a male critic with no comprehension of what pregnancy or abortion feels like. I think she may 'bang on' about it as much as she desires...Anyway, I feel like one of her biggest criticisms is how self-indulgent her work is so I wasn't sure how 6 (or so) rooms of the stuff was going to go down with me or the critics.
But yes, mistakenly making friends with Vice Magazine on facebook, someone posted a huge article slagging off her new exhibition. I say 'slagging off' because it wasn't a review or anything constructive despite being written by someone who stated at the very beginning how knowledgeable they are in art having studied it loads bla bla bla. Then the papers weren’t kind either, and soon I began to think maybe I would agree with the critics this time. However, an article in Vogue made a really nice change as all of Emin’s acquaintances had something lovely to say about her as a person and her work, making me think “okay maybe I’m not insane for liking her…”
So the exhibition opened and I was going to attend it on the first day, then the next day, okay a week later. And after leaving it a couple of weeks I started weirdly savouring the trip as if the anticipation would make it better, and then one cloudy day, while very hungover, I went to see it with a couple of friends…
When walking in you are instantly immersed in her words and her troubles, woes and life experiences are forced before your eyes in a way that the messy bits are unavoidable. THIS IS MY LIFE!! She says. Never have I experienced an artist make themselves so vulnerable to the public and I admire her for this. We spent at least an hour in there, seeing pieces I have always loved, been sceptical of, and never realised how much I actually like. But seriously, I could talk about the exhibition for a horribly long time…So I won’t.
It’s how I’m left feeling after that confuses me. So much negativity around her as an artist, the exhibition, even Emin as a person but I still just…love it. I’m not sure what it is about her, maybe because she is a bit of a feminist or maybe because she’s so brutally honest about her actions and feelings that I’m left with a greater appreciation and admiration for Emin than before. Although she’s self indulgent, being so open about your problems and experiences makes others who can relate to it think, “yeah I get this, and I felt the same! So it’s okay…” Which is a positive thing I’d say?
Well anyway, perhaps it’s good that there are so many contrasting opinions about her and essentially, art is subjective, but there’s something for nearly everyone. And if you’ve managed to get to the end of this text you’ll realise that I can’t be objective about Emin, her work has given me too much.
Unlike others, I don’t get bored. I just want more.
"Sometimes I Feel Beautiful" 2000
(And if you go, make sure you watch the videos, they're fucking brilliant!!)
Tracey Emin: Love is What You WantWednesday 18 May 2011 - Monday 29 August 2011 Hayward Gallery, London.