Tracey Emin

On a double mattress lie crumpled sheets, pillows, a pair of tights and a carelessly thrown towel. The bedside table and the rug next to it are cluttered with empty vodka bottles, Polaroids, used condoms, blood-stained underwear and a few stuffed animals. This work, entitled My Bed, caused huge controversy when it was displayed in the Tate Gallery in 1999 as part of the annual Turner Prize exhibition. Although in the end Tracey Emin (1963) did not win the prestigious prize, this was the work that everyone remembered.

As always, here too Emin's own life forms the starting point and subject of her work. My Bed is a reconstruction of the bedroom in which she spent four days and nights while she wrestled with ideas of suicide. With boundless openheartedness the artist shows us the harshest and most intimate aspects of her life. The spectator feels trapped, as if he has been caught secretly reading a diary that is not intended for his eyes. The work continues to evoke many questions. Is this 'rubbish' really art? And isn't Emin cynically exploiting the public's curiosity and voyeurism? On the other hand, one could also see Emin's work as an authentic and moving reflection on the human condition. My Bed can be interpreted as a statement on such universal themes as fertility, conception (and contraception), sex, illness and death. After all, is the bed not the place where a human being experiences his most intimate and meaningful moments?

For her autobiographical work as a whole, Tracey Emin uses just about every medium available to the contemporary artist: painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, installation, video, text, etc. However it was her work in textiles that developed into a true trademark. The Over de mensen en de dingen exhibition in Z33 included a worked blanket entitled Drunk to the Bottom of My Soul. Emin regularly uses this sort of patchwork quilt to visualise stories or poems. Moreover, the technique and the material evoke associations of domestic warmth that contrast sharply with the bitter content of what she has to say on such themes as alcohol abuse, physical abuse, rape and abortion.

- Peter Pollers


13.02 to 01.05.2005
13.02 to 01.05.2005
13.02 to 01.05.2005
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