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Digital Print, 2002
Signed Print Edition of 200
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Joe Syer, Head of Urban & Contemporary Art
This signed print from 2002 is a limited edition of 200 from Tracey Emin’s Polaroids collection. The print is organised as a diptych, divided into two parts. On the left side, a hand-written letter speaks of Emin’s desire to remove her tattoos, and reflects on the hopes and ambitions of her younger self, whilst on the right side, Emin arranges four candid photographs of her tattoos and her face.
Known as part of the British Young Group and as the Enfant terrible of British art, Emin is one of the most prominent female artists to have surfaced on to the contemporary art scene. Emin’s artworks have gained visibility thanks to their raw and confrontational quality, through which the artist articulates streams of consciousness, often juxtaposing written and visual language. Tattoo is no exception to this production, and exemplifies the ways in which image, in this case four candid Polaroids, and text come together in Emin’s art.
Tattoo is a diptych composed of a handwritten letter on the left side and four images of the artist’s body on the right side. Three of the images capture Emin’s tattoos, a bird, a scorpion and an anchor, whilst the remaining one presents an enlarged image of the artist’s face, with an attention to her forehead and eyes, scrutinising the viewer. Next to the images, the text expresses Emin’s wish to consider her tattoos as scars, as visual “memories of the past”, which remind her of the juvenile years in which she had them done, “too young and too stupid to think beyond 40, and too vain to consider old age”. In the artwork, Emin revisits the desires of when she was younger, making the viewer an active spectator to her reflections on her past self.