Ben Lewis reviews Tracey Emin’s new drawings show at White Cube gallery. In the process he gives us a capsule history of her career and pocket summation of her importance as an artist:
Emin’s new show at White Cube’s gallery in St James’s is dedicated to her drawings, which take the form of monoprints, embroidered cloth and handwritten neons. Here is another of these landmark works that redefine female identity, works that pepper her career. You’re going to think I am a voyeuristic male art critic to say it; you might even think that I am someone who searches for their sexual kicks in art galleries.
But after this show, no museum exhibition about feminist art, art about the body or sexual identity in art will be complete without this work. It’s a stop-frame animation, made from Emin’s typical, spindly, blotchy ink monoprint drawings.
In it, a female figure — of which you don’t see the head and which, though it bears resemblance, Tracey denies is her — masturbates energetically.
It’s a shocking symbol of female sexual desire, and totally of its time: an emblem of a new kind of feminism emerging from the trendy academic discipline of gender studies, in which pornography, sexual violence and voyeurism are not necessarily sexist, male and exploitative.
Tracey Emin’s Really Done It This Time (This is London/London Evening Standard)