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Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Emin's new show gets personal
Guilty: A pencil, ink and embroidery on calico artwork
By BBC News Online's Helen Bushby

Controversial British artist Tracey Emin, famed for her stained, debris-strewn My Bed, is baring her soul again in her first solo exhibition since 1997.

Emin's works tend to whip up a media storm because they touch on some of the most traumatic events in her personal life.

Her show at London's White Cube≤, is likely to be no exception - it includes a patchwork square embroidered with Something Really Terrible - about the death of an unwanted baby.

It also features explicit sketched self-portraits, video peep shows and an enormous wooden helter skelter with a stuffed sparrow on top of it.

Hellter F***** Skelter
Part of Hellter F****** Skelter
Emin has also made a newspaper model of Concorde, which fatally crashed last year killing all 109 people on board.

In her introduction to the show, called You forgot to kiss my soul, Emin writes: "Helter F****** Skelter - it doesn't matter how good things are - how good life is.

"It only takes one little knock, to start the never-ending downward spiral, for me every moment of reality is a balance..."


There are several, fragile-looking, childlike sketches of sparrows, and next to them Emin has written - Shall we go to bed? You told me not to; I've done that better than I thought I would.

The 37-year-old has made no secret of her depression and troubled past, of being raped aged 13, teenage promiscuity, an abortion, miscarriage, attempted suicide and drink problem.

Emin: "It only takes one little knock, to start the never-ending downward spiral"
My Bed, which missed out on the Turner prize, but still sold to Charles Saatchi for £150,000, was Emin's way of making a period of self-neglect and despair tangible.

It attracted a huge amount of attention, not least from two performance artists, who leapt all over it when it was exhibited at the Tate Gallery.

And many a headline was hit by Everyone I Ever Slept With 1963-1995 - the work featured a small tent, and anyone who crawled inside was greeted by dozens of embroidered names.


Her latest exhibition is no less voyeuristic - but it also makes you aware of your own peeping-tom tendencies.

Automatic Orgasm
Automatic Orgasm: Emin's work is often confessional
One of the works involves a wooden box on top of a step ladder. If you crawl to the top of the ladder and peep through a hole in the wood, you can watch a video of someone wandering around what appears to be a garden.

Another wooden box, which looks suspiciously like an outside toilet, shows a bizarre film of Emin trying to bash down her front door, while trying to fend herself off from the inside.

There is no way of knowing if anyone is inside the box, so you have to peep inside first and more often than not disturb someone watching the video.

Emotional turmoil

While the show does not reveal Emin to be particularly skilled as a practical artist, it reveals once again that she is expert at grabbing people's attention.

This may have something to do with the fascination of seeing someone else's problems and emotions laid bare.

Seeing Emin's words scattered across her artworks is disturbingly reminiscent of Vanessa Feltz's emotional breakdown during her stay in the Celebrity Big Brother house.

Feltz's erratic, tearful behaviour was splashed across newspapers when she began to crack under the pressure of being rejected from the house.

She took a piece of chalk meant for writing a daily shopping list and began covering the table in words including "incarcerated, diffident, disparate, frustrated".

Millions of viewers were fascinated and yet somewhat repelled by the spectacle - no doubt Emin's latest show will provoke an equally strong response.

Tracey Emin's You Forgot to Kiss My Soul is at White Cube≤, 48 Hoxton Square, London from 27 April - 26 May.

Artist Tracey Emin
"I've still got a massive chip on my shoulder about stuff"
Critic and writer Natasha Walter
"You do feel kind of humiliated"
See also:

20 Sep 00 | UK
Art's shock treatment
16 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Tracey makes a pile
17 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Emin's slippers fetch £5,500
13 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Emin airs her dirty linen
21 May 00 | Entertainment
Performance artists strike again
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