In 1996, British artist Tracey Emin (b. 1963) locked herself naked in an enclosed room at a gallery in Stockholm for 3 weeks to reconcile her anxieties and guilt around painting, a medium she had abandoned 6 years prior.
After a traumatic period in the early 90s with two abortions, Tracey Emin could not physically stand the thought of painting and wanted to face her troubled relationship with the medium. Through fish-eye lenses in the exterior walls of the room, visitors could follow glimpses of Emin’s process. The entire collection of artworks and objects in the room were preserved as an installation, which are all exhibited here in their original constellation.
The paintings and drawings that Emin created in the process refer to and appropriate works by male artists Egon Schiele, Yves Klein, Edvard Munch, and Pablo Picasso. Historically, women’s access to the artist’s studio have been as models, not artists. The representation of women has been a male affair, where the female nude stands out as the most distinct example of the objectification of the female body. Further, Emin documented the performance in the photographic series The Life Model Goes Mad, in which she takes on the role of the model in her own studio, reclaiming female identity and sexuality.
Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made stands out as a pivotal work and predecessor to a line of works, in which Emin uses her own life, trauma, and emotions as a means of expression, with the most widely recognized piece being My Bed (1998). In this work, Emin positions herself in the double role as both model and artist, challenging the universal acceptance of women as objects of the male gaze.
Fueled unapologetically by the intimate and personal, Emin offers up universal themes of love, loss, desire, and grief, the constructs of self and the female experience.
This exhibition at Faurschou New York marks the first time that this seminal work of art is exhibited in the United States.
"I stopped painting when I was pregnant. The smell of the oil paints and the turps made me feel physically sick, and even after my termination, I couldn't paint. It's like I needed to punish myself by stopping the thing I loved doing the most. I hated my body; I was scared of the dark; I was scared of being asleep. I was suffering from guilt and punishing myself, so I threw myself in a box and gave myself three and a half weeks to sort it out. And I did. My only regret about this project was that I didn't carry on painting from that moment. It took me another five years before I started painting again."
SCAR TISSUE (BLURRED EARTH)