Tracey Emin

Image: Monument Valley (Grand Scale) by Tracey Emin. White Cube/© Tracey Emin.

The thing about Emin is that she's really good with words. Maybe no one, until now, has so energised, understood, made visible, the possibilities of this particular, powerful word: cunt. Partly such energizing is art's responsibility, one that works, by means of what WG Sebald calls "keeping faith with unsocial, banned language", to question, understand and, with any luck, transcend the proscriptions and the inarticulacies of whatever time we happen to live in. There's a parallel in Emin's punk insertion of the word "fucking" into the construct "red, white and blue" in her neon of 2002, Red, White, and Fucking Blue, where the word "red" is red neon, the word "white" and the "&" are white neon, and the words "Fucking" and "Blue" are blue neon, and suggest everything that could make you feel blue (in all senses of the word) in the cliché of the concept of being British.

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