Notes: Confessing

January 7, 2010

In the hands of the British artist Tracey Emin, the confessional autobiographical work rivals the kiss-and-tell of the tabloid press. In Everyone I Have Ever Slept With, 1963-95, she chronicles all those who have shared her bed. In her willingness to put everything about herself into her art — she videos a day at the seaside, an artists’ outing to Niagara Falls — she walks a very fine line between art and life. Before she understood this, she says she made no progress: “I had a studio, and I had the idea to make something beautiful. And I’d go to the studio every day with that ambition and I’d leave every day feeling depressed and feeling a failure. I couldn’t live up to my ideas of what I truly believed art to be…. I thought it was more important the way things looked. And now I don’t necessarily believe that. That has become the lesser issue in the way that I make things.” Asked whether art had a part to play in society, she replies, “It should have but it doesn’t. I think the problem is that artists are too content with making things which look nice. There should be something revelationary about it. It should be totally new and creative, and it should open up doors for new thoughts and experiences.” (From Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits by Frances Borzello)