What is art? As an individual, going to galleries hasn’t really been my thing, because I thought that they’re mostly boring and it really doesn’t engage me as a visitor. As I entered The White Cube, there were art pieces spaced out everywhere, and straight down the end of the main hall way, was a huge canvas titled ‘A fortnight of tears’ which is the title of the exhibition. The first thing you see when you enter is Emin’s speech on the wall on the left. Tracey tells us about her unending journey of insomnia, and other sorrows and torments that she has gone through and is currently going through. I thought that her speech was telling the visitors how she’s ‘slowly dying from the inside’. Reading this gave me an idea of how the rest of the gallery was going to be – a journey of her sufferings, pain and the battle of her life. The first room I went into was the Insomnia Room Installation; in this room there were pictures of Tracey’s face, in the night when she couldn’t sleep that were blown up. I had a really uncomfortable feeling of constantly being watched from all corners of the room. I could see that these were distressful moments in her life, through her pale face and heavy eye bags. In the next room, there was a statue of a kneeling female, called ‘The Mother’. A figure that shows how the female body really looks like, and perhaps how Emin sees herself. With all her flaws. All her bumps. All her imperfections.
The next room was The Ashes Room. A room full of drawings that tell the story of her mother’s death and also her abortion. Her art may look childish and easy to do at first, however taking a closer look reveals a completely different image. I was really amazed at how a messy and unthoughtful looking piece of art at first glance tell such a deep story. A drawing on the wall titled ‘Every part of me kept loving you’ showed her naked with her legs opened. This made me feel as if she was reminiscing about her abortion. This painting made me feel her regret, and made me see another side to abortion, in which it is a woman’s choice. While walking through the gallery, I noticed that the majority of her paintings had a dripping effect. To me, this represents blood dripping down her legs when she came out of the cab at the hospital, which is talked about in the film ‘How It Feels’. Her blood loss. Her blood could also signify her period. Her ability to give life, and once she’s had the abortion, she’s given the life away.
In the South Gallery II, Emin takes us through her abortion journey, and how she got raped. Walking past these images made me feels empathy for her, about how she felt when she was getting pinned down and constricted. Her face was mostly scribbled out in the paintings. To me, this meant that she might have been ashamed of what society will think of her, or how she still doesn’t know her identity after this trauma.
“ I was really amazed at how a messy and unthoughtful looking piece of art at first glance, could tell such a deep story.”
The statue of a woman lying down shows people different perspectives of where her hand is. From the front, the hand seems as if it’s on her vagina, perhaps signifying self-pleasure. However, from the back, we see that it’s placed on her thigh. This shows her being honest about her sexual desires and saying no to what society will have to say about it. The neon piece ‘I longed for you’ tells us her need for someone to be there for her and the fact that no one was. As I read on, it says that the person ended up disappearing. This suggested one of the heartbreaks that Emin went through and the fact she had to deal with it by herself, without anyone’s support. This helped me gain an insight into what she had been thorough.
Personally, my idea of art is being articulate, caring about staying within the lines and not making a mistake. Tracey’s idea of art is expressing her emotions through her paint brush. I wasn’t expecting to understand a person so intimately through an exhibition. ‘A fortnight of tears’ was intimate, overwhelming, empowering.