Tracey Emin: Trust ME (2011), You Should have Loved ME (2008), I Keep Believing In You (2009), I WOKE UP WANTING TO KISS YOU (2010)
Lately I’ve taken a liking to writing letters and e-mails and lengthy monologues in birthday cards in a confessional manner, of how truly sad I can be and my favourite colour and what I would do without the love of another and my favourite song when I was sixteen and the most outrageous of my sins, all in an attempt to create an honest dialogue, honesty which is lacking so much today in literature and art and music and amongst friends, honesty that we do need. We really do.
My first encounter with Tracey Emin was at the North Carolina Museum of Art, tucked away in the back, adorning an otherwise bare wall. It cried “You Should Have Loved ME”. I understood entirely, I understand completely. It broke my heart in a way that a neon white sign should not break my heart. Even when I have driven past fantastic neon signs signalling fast food chains and lost dreams before leading towards the expanse of endless roads and desolate, unchanging highways, it has never broken my heart. Art had never broken my heart, not in the way that music was capable of. I believed that art was designed to sell, to create revolutions or to revolutionize the way one that. I hadn’t yet experienced confessional art. I didn’t know that it could confess.
In an Art News piece, Tracey Emin comments ”‘I’m not drawn to the erotic. I’m confused by it. There is very little in my life that is sexual or erotic. It’s more to do with memory. I’m more interested in love.” To be interested in love is a bold thing to confess in a time when feelings of love are so unheard of, which must only be professed behind closed doors, which to the rest of the world we must declare as being too sentimental a feeling and too unnatural of a state of being. While Dali has presented to us an alternate reality and Ai Weiwei of a political truth, Tracey Emin illuminates secrets we scribbled down in journals never again to see the light of day and on post-its that are immediately thrown away. Illuminated are our feelings suppressed and all that so many of us are too afraid to say out loud. She speaks for us so that we will never have to, her neon signs hang softly to give us the pleasure of knowing that all that we are feeling is out there for the world to see while maintaining our anonymity. The beauty of Emin’s work is in her confessional honesty, in the form of muted neon signs that tell a story - our story.