Friday, December 26, 2008

her pop autobiography

She produces autobiographical art -- art which is about herself.

This is one of the first lines you come across at Tracey Emin’s website. Two things come to my mind: that she’s not alone - everyone does. Every artist makes work about themselves. But secondly, most women are kind of shamed for looking at themselves and getting all personal, whereas she’s been able to glorify it. I commend her.

She had the British Pavilion at Venice last year. I wrote in my diary: The work itself is rather disappointing but I find her really interesting. Some may think it’s weird to make your personal story the constant link in what you create, but any attractive woman has this saga as the platform for everything she does and how she is perceived. It’s all within her biology, what she looks like, how fuckable she is and who she is doing it with. The moment you think it’s not you find out you are wrong - and it’s coming from females too. Once I started looking at her this way, she seemed rather important to me.

The personal saga of a woman’s life as it traverses their art seems like this unavoidable bill of fare by now – from Dumas to Peyton or Sherman or Kahlo. But of course it is no different than what the guys have been doing all along. After all, someone gets to tell the story. Everyone I Ever Slept With – the famous work of Emin’s - isn’t that exactly what Matisse painted throughout his career? One prostitute (er, "Nude") after another?

Perhaps the autobiographical slant in art means more to me lately because I’ve been thinking of Peyton and Dumas, who are getting a lot of press for their shows. I enjoyed both the videos James Kalm put up very much. The course of the conversation in the blogosphere around the work is the same as it ever was: is it any good? The Quality of the Work rag. Mind, men have painted their families and their women and their babies for centuries but rave on.

In my photomontage, I've had conversations about the personal. I made works about looking for love, about very specifically looking for a husband, about being poor, about being crazy. And I think I could venture wherever I pleased because I rarely showed it and therefore, no discourse on bad, good, Quality, whatever.

Painting, though, that was different. The rare exceptions were 60s/80s, which played on YSL and Marimekko and The Italian. And it was The Italian of Take Off that Richard Speer chose to write about - because he could connect to the Pop autobiography. I think for some women, they get so sick of being the object that it’s the last thing they really want to face, but lately it occurred to me that Speer may have said something very valuable for me there.


nod said...

cheers eva (lifting glass of wine).. thanks again for waking a few lost brain cells

Anonymous said...

Just don't think this is actually 'her' website. Seems v. unofficial in language and approach ... said...

It takes courage but also a certain exhibitionism to expose ones self constantly in his Art
also people who like that exposure usually hope for the shock value that comes with it and get a thrill out of it.
Many of us rather don't look that closely at the chaos that reigns inside of us, the upheaval life creates in our minds because it is not as it was promised.
As a once cute gay guy I understand the distaste for being physically ojectivied by others but over the years I learned that what disturbed me was the power imbalance caused by the one sidedness.
I didn't like that I had no control over their fanatsies.
Now I know that I was just the blank they projected their archetypical model onto because they hadn't found their inner double and were stuck searching on the ourside for that fullfillment.
So Tracey maybe is on the quest to find her answsers in her self instead of looking on the outside.
Just some thoughts!

Eva said...

I didn't like that I had no control over their fanatsies.
Now I know that I was just the blank they projected their archetypical model onto because they hadn't found their inner double and were stuck searching on the ourside for that fullfillment.

I think you are on to something there. It takes up a lot of time re-educating. "No, I'm not about that" "No, I don't really think like that" and so on. You find the conversation is often going places you never think about but people are insistent to put you there.

For some of these artists, I think what they are doing is taking on that conversation, one that others are having about them, and adding a bigger twist, one self-penned. And because it is, that's almost shocking or offensive or just not right somehow. Like everyone else can talk about their body and what they wear and who they fuck, but not them.

A couple of years back when I spoke about women and art at this little party, the woman sitting next to me said (as regards this blog or the radio show perhaps, I'm not really sure): "Well, that's your thing." That gist made me laugh because no, it wasn't really "my" thing, some thing of invention on my part. I was finally just addressing the thing that wouldn't go away, that's all.

Eva said...

It's true Ivan that the site I have up might not be hers. But otherwise I cannot find one which is. Everything else is a gallery site like Saatchi or White Cube, etc....

nod said...

well.. giggles sitting on my porch .. during the winter... in the southern US...I use enouph.. and thinks.. thats a deep subject