No Longer Britain’s Bimbo: Reframing Tracey Emin in the Context of 1990s British Culture
Tracey Emin is one of the most notable female contemporary artists in Britain today. Whether her notoriety is attributed to her infamous persona, which Emin cultivates through drunken interviews and red carpet appearances, or her highly sought after works that sell for many millions at auction, she has truly established a foothold in the art world. Critics, scholars, and media sources have characterized Emin as a self-involved pseudo- celebrity who lacks artistic ability and is only concerned with using her body to make a spectacle. This surface read of the artist is a common one, yet it is one that fails to dig deeper into the intricacies and intentionality of her work. Through her various artworks, whether they be performance based, photographs, instillations, or hand-sewn quilts, Emin is actively in discourse with the culture in which she is creating. Instead of simply exposing herself to the public or using her works to create a spectacle, Emin is engaging, on a primary level, with her personal hardships in an attempt to reclaim parts of herself and her past, but on a larger scale is incorporating issues of class, gender, and politics to make a comment on the state of 1990’s Britain. This paper analyzes two of Emin’s works, I’ve Got It All (2000) and Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made (1995), in an attempt to reframe the discourse on these creations and demonstrate how the artist utilizes the themes of post-feminism, the rise of reality television, and post-Thatcherism to make carefully crafted and compelling works.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2016
- F&M Theses Collection