Tracey Emin makes publicly available private events whose passions, through her art, then become representative of us all. These communications are the artist's fearless storytellings of being human. By virtue of the artist's great resource - her life experiences - they are authoritative exclamations of the adventures and misadventures of living. Emin's work seeks a shared working out of her soul - sometimes in an evidential matter of fact way, and sometimes through poetic extremity - to which we are witnesses.

The artist's story is variously passionately inflamed, wryly observant, or poignant. Her tragicomedies and cruel abuses, her sufferings and rejoicings, are spiritually elevated by her self deprecating humour and humility of method. This forms a trusting background basis for her art, which disallows it being ponderous or vain, or being without the deep emotional credibility it has.

Emin's storytelling techniques are eclectically various, using diaries and letters; personal detritus; photos; paintings and drawings; videos; neon; appliqué; and written bookworks. A principal context for these has been the Tracey Emin Museum in London, a space of the artist's dedicated for the exhibition of her works.

A traditional curriculum vitae would, paradoxically, usually be an inappropriate vehicle for describing the really important things of living and dying. Emin though has authenticated the CV as a context for describing a life, which in her example has more vitae than many. Her conflations and digressions of the poetic and emotional, within the dry business of an administrative listing, is funny, sad and potent.

In part, Emin's CV is a study of the matrilinear, ending with the death of her grandmother. The only other person seen in the video is her mother. Emin is in a fetal position. All CV's start with a child's birth. The heartstopping ending of Emin's video gains its effect partly because of our unacknowledged fear of the final conclusive ending of any child's life.

Neal Brown


resume of the artist


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