In a world where anything and everything is labelled as “art” Tracey Emin still seeks to be different, to push boundaries, to piss over all that came before. This is partly why I “love” her.

While her work can be deeply personal and artistically executed, (See: Every One I Ever Slept With) it is often obsessively self-reflective, isolated and in need of an explanation. Great importance has been given to the conceptual aspects of her work, often over traditional measures such as skill, attention to detail and the unattainable nature of “great work”. As Grayson Perry notes “craft” has become a dirty word in art. One look at Emin’s paintings will tell you this (See: Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made).

Despite feeling that her work is void of deeper substance, it is still very her – naked and loud.

Often the appeal of her work seems not to be the object or its construction, but rather the name, the “celebrity” endorsement (Think: My Bed). It’s like a garish poor quality bag sprawled with a luxury logo. An item not necessarily appealing in its own right, but rather made appealing by our belief in it. The thing is, Tracey is the product – created by Saatchi and fed into our media saturated world.

Beyond Emin’s lead role in her workshop of craftsmen she is still fascinating. Despite feeling that her work is void of deeper substance, aesthetic value and even effort, it is still very her – naked and loud. I guess I really love her because she is a character. Thing is, I can’t work out whether she’s the emperor seeing invisible threads of greatness, or in fact the tailor, weaving her celebrity with an air of confidence over the eyes of the art world.

Tracey Emin’s exhibition: Love Is What You Want is showing at The Hayward until 29 August. Read our review.

Image courtesy of Tracey Emin


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