what a trip !! to go from NORA EPHRON to . . . TRACEY EMIN !!

if you’ve notice a ‘drift’ to the more emotional and deep personal/cloudy (!!) in my writing lately . . . you can blame it on TRACEY EMIN, whose enchanting, quick read, down-dirty a-plenty memoir, ‘STRANGELAND’ has consumed me feverishly . . . all this past week.

I would capsulize the experience as: FORNICATION vs FABRICATION !!

using fellow Brit Seal’s favorite word for the sex act – as in HEIDI KLUM vs SEAL !! exact words, or to that extent: “I wish Heidi wouldn’t fornicate with the help.” . . . as post marital break-up, Heidi is rumored to be having an affair with her bodyguard.

hey these fellow Brits seem pretty hot under the collar for such an uptight bunch, so a Brit . . . is a Brit is a Brit, and – it all connects, no ? plus Tracey is always alluding back to her great-great-great-grandfather on her father’s side – who was a slave in the Ottoman Empire. “A warrior from the Sudan with skin as black as the night. He wore a red fez, rode a great horse and carried a sword by his side.” pg. 13. (so, there !!)

anyways: it’s an interesting contrast. FORNICATION vs FABRICATION.

I would label myself more a FABRICATOR than a FORNICATOR, though I have 2 kids so don’t peg me, out !!

but just saying, I talk a lot about my own specific art and, more to the point in this conversation, I MAKE ALL MY OWN ART – hands-on, I take all the photos, and hand-stitch all the quilts, and self-post publish my ‘blog’.

TRACEY on the other hand, I believe designs her quilts, but has seamstresses ‘fabricate’ them. I’m not sure, but if memory serves at one time her Polaroid snaps were ‘found’ too, as in: not generated by her.

She’s more of a conceptualist than a craftsperson. I’m not making judgements, it’s called: the richness of creative diversity – right on !!

Tracey’s ‘Strangeland’, first published in 2005 – is a memoir, like this site, and just like the bulk of Nora Ephron’s writings. but there all paths diverge. though ultimately and very dominantly ‘Strangeland’ is about her FAMILY and the Family Jewels, hers (!!) very much. esp as she plots the blame for the runaway passion – squarely on her dad and inheriting his wild Turk heritage.

what you get is never a word about her art, as in ‘artwork’ per se. what you get is the inward seething passions and demons – that formed her, and which her work spurts out of.

unlike Nora Ephron, or even I, the writing in ‘Strangeland’ it is NOT about observation, and it’s not so funny. At the end of the day, Tracey is a mess and mad about her upbringing. mad at own her hard-to-live with personality . . . that never lets up on her. she seems to have happened upon success in a drunken stupor, and . . . “push my head” into the pillow, hard – trumps all.

it is a deep, messy, sometimes unfinished, pulsatingly raw journey that serves as the backdoor into her art – rather than being about the art. impressionistic expression, dreams, life, dreams that melt into life, Margate – a complete spilling of her guts . . . dominates all. the closest you get is on pages 176-177, about 30 pages away, from the end of the book.

“I find it difficult to concentrate and impossible to relax. My mind is hyper, my body taut. I’m frustrated, and at the age of thirty-three, I’m sick to death of turning myself on: the Great Wank, when you give yourself a really good going-over. The same fantasies – the cowboys, the lesbians, the skinhead boys – like the loop of a film going round and round. The dry orgasm, everything held inside . . .
. . . the constant meetings, the film crews, the phone ringing, the appointments – until, finally, the one important thing can seem like an afterthought: art The art of living and wanting, needing to feel whole.
Which was why the biggest kick of the last few weeks was joining my local video ship. For two reasons: (1) I never go the cinema; (2) I like to work while I’m watching TV.”

the bold ‘font’ emphasis – is mine.
that’s about the biggest direct reference you get, to her work – but as you might also see – what’s on the page is pretty illuminating, all the same. just, you get the info, sideways, obliquely. even though it’s right-in-your face – the way through !!

I have a special bond with Tracey Emin, not only because of the quilts – but because my photos of her 2002 New York solo show – were my FIRST EVER published pix !!


read more: ‘STRANGELAND’ by TRACEY EMIN on Amazon

TRACEY EMIN, ‘Hotel International’, 1993
Applique quilt, 257 x 240 cm. Private Collection, New York.
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York. copyright the artist.
image scanned from a museum post card.