oh, to get a glimpse of what heaven is! oh, to be able to touch love! oh, to close your eyes and feel all the colors of the world in a single kiss!
Do you know the feeling of that moment when you perceive life and everything around you just feels right? When every single object seems to be in the exact place and looking inside yourself all you see is peace? That is the moment when you realize the weight of life and you start feeling it flowing inside you. You can sense it at the edge of your fingers in its golden color: step by step it leaves your hands and just pours into your veins. Once it has gone through your arms it reaches your chest, your heart, your lungs, it makes you breathe harder but better: you are embraced by a totally different feeling, one of those that does not harm you, or threaten you with anxiety and worries, but just fulfills you entirely.
It is exactly this inspirational moment that Tracey Emin (b.1963), British artist of Turkish origins, shares in her artworks, by bringing us in her world of compassion, suffering and dreams with love statements in neon lights.
Tracey’s name began to be heard in the art world during the 90s. Her goal wasn’t to fill up gallery spaces: she just wanted a normal life, freedom from drama and delusions, but unfortunately her fate was different. In her autobiographical work STRANGELAND (2005), she tells us about her entrance into the ‘world of love’ at a very young age. Since then her body became the main medium through which she expresses herself. Love molded her in every single way, be that for a positive or negative outcome: it deprived her of her childhood and led her into adulthood too soon; it gave her instruments she did not know how to use; it gave her a one-way ticket and left her alone. However, it was mostly because of her troubled love stories that the artist Tracey Emin was born. Being one of the leading YBAs – acronym standing for Young British Artists – she stood at the centre of the attention for a long period of time, becoming a special target due to her controversial art.
‘My Bed’, for a long time, wasn’t even considered a piece of art and one can imagine why. It was a total scandal: a half made bed, with sheets hanging out of it, a stained carpet with cigarette butts, empty bottles of vodka, used condoms, pills, bras and panties left behind, polaroids from the night before. I bet the bed still has her body shape printed on the sheets, I even believe her perfume still lingers there.
This piece of art was – or better, still is – an incredibly intimate shot of her life. She literally left an instant of her past for us to see, to remember who she once was, and who she still is deep inside. When you think about it, it is as if she gave away a piece of herself. It is definitely not an easy choice to make: it takes strength, courage and determination. Would you be able to give away a moment of your personal intimate life and make it public? Would you be able to shed a light on topics that are seen as taboos and are always – and I stress always – really really really hard to discuss? I challenge you to try.
Tracey was not ashamed of her love life, because in the end she accepted herself and realized that there was nothing to be ashamed of. By accepting her past, present and future, she made her entrance into the art world.
Emin started experimenting with neon lights in the late 90s, pouring out messages that are deeply personal but at the same time universal statements. The artist gave us some memorable works in different colors, delivered specifically with her handwriting and not with some preset computer fonts. This choice reveals a sign of humanity that she wanted to remark once again, so that we don’t forget the real essence of feelings, that even if invisible, are always palpable.
‘What color is a kiss?’
Tracey sees it hot red. However it’s not herself that she’s posing the question to. She uses her body, her words, her presence, to give people a message of love and hope. oh, to trust people! She’s asking us what color a kiss is, and she gives us a chance to think about it, cause really, when was the last time we tried to give a kiss a color?
‘I don’t believe in love but I believe in you’
What is true love? The answer is subjective for each one of us, meaning that love is something that we create depending on the circumstances, but most importantly depending on who – or what – we have in front of us. There is no true and perfect concept of love. When we think about it we have this very still image, built with our ideals, our hopes and dreams. It seems impenetrable and indestructible, but a love like the one we dream about is nearly impossible to reach. There are always some adjustments to our ideal of love, and that is because we crash with other people’s ideals. Never put yourself alone in an impenetrable ivory tower. Never believe in love alone. Believe in people, and in the great outcomes you could achieve by just letting yourself go. ‘I don’t believe in love but I believe in you’ says Tracey. Was she right? It is for you to tell.