Tracey Emin

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Only a handful of contemporary artists are household names. In England, at least, Tracey Emin tops the list. I began to understand why a few years ago when she walked into an opening and immediately this warm, happy feeling went through me: Ah, there’s my pal Tracey! I had to quickly remind myself that Ms. Emin and I had never actually met. Yet very few works in any medium give as vivid an illusion of intimacy as Emin’s early videos, most notably How It Feels, 1996—the horror story of a botched abortion—and Why I Never Became a Dancer, 1995, which recounts an episode of humiliation at a dance contest as the impetus to chuck the buried life of Emin’s provincial seaside hometown, the scene of her rape and ensuing promiscuity. These first-person underdog narratives are far more than just outpourings of pathos or cries for sympathy; rather, the coolly furious analytical acumen the artist

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