Presented by the Patrons of New Art (Special Purchase Fund) through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1999
Emin's monoprints have a diaristic aspect and frequently depict events from the past. Often they incorporate text as well as image, although some bear only text and others only image. The text appears as the artist's stream of consciousness voice. The rapid, one-off technique involved in making monoprints is perfectly suited to (apparently) immediate expression, as is Emin's scratchy drawing style. Rarely displayed alone, the monoprints are particularly effective as collective fragments of intense emotional confrontation. Fuck You Eddy narrates an event from the artist's teenage years of sexual experimentation in Margate. The text is part back-to-front, part the right way round (although individual letters are sometimes back-to-front), reflecting the process of making monoprints which results in a mirror image of whatever is drawn or written. The text of this monoprint reads: 'There was Eddy - he was 26 - I was only 14 - He took me to the Naland Rock and fuked [sic] me/ He was pathetic - 2 seconds and it was over -'. This accompanies a drawing of the hotel, with a phallic lighthouse in the background. Below, Emin has written in pencil over the printed image of several objects, elaborating the text above and explaining the collection of objects: 'Then he collapsed - I phoned my mum from the hotel room - and said I was OK and on my way home - On my way out - I stole - His cigarettes - lighter - money And watch - '. Emin has stated:
For me, aggression, sex and beauty go together. Much of my work has been about memory, for example, but memories of violence and pain. Nowadays if I make a drawing I'm trying to draw love, but love isn't always gentle … Being an artist isn't just about making nice things, or people patting you on the back; it's some kind of communication, a message. (Quoted in Morgan, pp.59-60.)
Emin's courage in showing various seemingly contradictory aspects of herself - abject, tortured and enraged - and her ability to translate negative personal experience into a form of affirmation, are among her greatest strengths as an artist. Her use of autobiographical material and her direct expression of emotional drives have a precedence in the text and drawing works of Louise Bourgeois (born 1911), who has based her work directly on such material since the early 1980s, producing her Autobiographical Series of prints (Tate P77682-95) in 1994. See Tate P11562 and T11565-8 for other Emin monoprints.
Sex and the British, exhibition catalogue, Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Salzburg 2000, pp.3-4 and 25-9
Neal Brown, Sarah Kent, Matthew Collings, Tracey Emin: I Need Art Like I Need God, exhibition catalogue, Jay Jopling, London 1998, p.6
Stuart Morgan, 'The Story of I: Interview with Tracey Emin', Frieze, issue 34, May 1997, pp.56-61