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Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want Exhibition

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
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Without being rude, if you don't know who Tracey Emin is and you're over 16 then this review probably isn't for you, even if 'Love is What you Want'. Not knowing who she is would mean you would have had to have actively turn away, or put your hands over your ears, whenever modern British art has been mentioned in the past ten years. Of course the idea of this site is to give you the opportunity to try new things, so if you've not heard of her, please get a taste for her here (and let us know what you think it's great to have a fresh set of eyes.).

For the rest of you who're familiar with Ms Emin's work, but maybe not all of it, then this exhibition is the perfect way to expose yourself to some of her 'other' work aside from the really controversial, ratbag-of-art stuff.

Most of Emin's work is about Emin. Or the experience of being her at various points over the past 30 years. Many art exhibitions are called intimate or autobiographical, but this one is more personal than that even, like the scrap book of a life, if the work you did in your scrapbooks, journals and even your bed was considered art. Which is why if you're unfamiliar with her and she has been all over the media for three decades now then this might be a big exhibition to take in. From the childhood in Margate to the drinking and the depression to her cat and her love life. But while there's a lot to take in, it's all here, so in some respects this is a good introduction to her because it's curated with care and logic.

In the main gallery are her many quilts covered in text, some of them screaming violently, some of them purring. Then in a smaller corridor darkly lit to set them off are her neon signs. In a room upstairs are the personal relics of her lows, the pill casings and bandages etc. all here, on display in glass cases, and accounted for, so that you don't forget that they're part of the experience of being Tracey Emin as well.

As well as the conceptual things there are also the many line drawings, some of them featuring her own anatomy, her more recent forays into sculpture and words in video and photography. But the thing that ties everything here together is that it was all, very personally, created by this one woman, an artists and so it's all art.

Some of it works, and some of it doesn't, but the overwhelming feeling of it is that it was all created by the same soul. The handwriting, the colours, the drawing, the neat stitching, it's all feminine and slightly broken and graphic, but it all fits together and it's all, obviously created with feeling and the intention that that feeling is transmitted to the viewer.
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Why? Feel what it's like to be someone else
When: Open Mon-Wed,Sat-Sun 10am-6pm; Thu-Fri 10am-8pm
Where: Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre Belvedere Rd, City of London SE1 8XT
Cost: 12 (including small voluntary donation)
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