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The British artist is as deeply personal as ever in her first London exhibition in five years, reflecting on loss, mourning, insomnia and spiritual love at White Cube Bermondsey. All rights reserved, DACS Photography: Ollie Hammick.
IN LIFE there are many different ways of getting to know someone - which is perhaps why the notional importance of first impressions is just that. There are people who insinuate themselves into your life, skulking away when you approach, tailing you from the front; and there are others who ram-raid their way into your psyche and have a rummage around to see if there's anything they can use. But these aren't the only polarities, as the intense singularity with which Tracey Emin has penetrated my life bears testimony.
For a while now, money has been drawn to misery. Throughout the New Labour years we have found a good deal of our entertainment in the exposed frailty of others. The jiltings, the abortions, the insistent naked trauma: we would miss them if they were not here.
We can always rely on Tracey Emin to get us talking about sex, whether we're remembering all the people we've ever slept with or the state of our stained bed sheets. This time her hot topic is female masturbation but, hopefully, not until we get home as featured in her latest exhibition, Those Who Suffer Love, the centrepiece of which is an animation of a woman pleasuring herself. I would wager that at some point in their lives most women have denied that they ever do it whether disingenuously or noteither out of shame or decorum.
White Cube's new show, When I Think About Sex…, is her first commercial exhibition here in four years, but what with her controversial film about Margate delinquents, Top Spot, and the burning of her famous tent in the Momart fire, she hasn't needed to produce much art to fill the column inches recently. She's settled well into her celebrity, too. The days of drunken catfights and expletive-filled television appearances are gone.
Emin suffers from insomnia, and takes selfies as she helplessly wrestles with it. They tower over you, suffocating you in their bleary, angry, frustrated misery. It just hits you so hard. An everyday struggle laid utterly bare.
British Broadcasting Corporation Home. Never one to shy away from the controversial, the exhibition at the White Cube gallery features drawings of naked figures, as well as a film animation of a woman masturbating. Even if you are in love for 60 years one of you is still going to die first.
In the middle of her new exhibition, in which the most arresting piece is a looped animation of drawings that depict a woman masturbating, Tracey Emin explained that sex is loosening its grip as her 50th birthday looms. But now it's fading fast. I don't have the same craziness about sex that I had — I'm more interested in ideas.