Self-portraiture takes new forms in the art of Tracey Emin. This gleeful selfie was made after she became famous for My Bed, which was shortlisted for the Turner prize in 1999. My Bed is itself an expressionist, readymade self portrait. Emin's art is all about her. That is what makes it powerful – because when all is said and done, her own life is a bloody good subject.
I’ve Got It All (2000) is an enlarged Polaroid snapshot of Emin that contains many significant themes that run throughout her art practice – sexuality, intimacy, honesty, exposure, rawness, and the repressed anger that typically accompanies emotional pain. Sitting on a rust red floor in a low-cut Vivienne Westwood dress, legs splayed, Emin attempts to gather a pile of British currency that seems to spew uncontrollably from her loins. The context of when this image was created is essential to its central interpretation. In 1999 Emin was selected as a nominee for the Turner Prize. Although she didn’t win, her controversial piece My Bed (1998) inspired such a media frenzy that she overshadowed the actual winner. I’ve Got It All is clearly a celebration of triumph in the face of challenging odds.
An alternative interpretation to the celebrative tone of I’ve Got It All (2000) considers the title as sarcastic. Emin has been open about discussing the fact that she never had children. “I would have been so much happier had I not had the abortions, but I truly believe that I would have been so much unhappier if I had had the children." She has been heavily criticized for suggesting that motherhood and successful careers cannot exist simultaneously. However, she has opened up a very relevant discourse on an issue on the choice of childbirth that most serious career woman, and certainly every female artist, has contemplated by the time they have reached age 40. Emin was 37 when this photo was taken. The wealth portrayed in I’ve Got It All is a lifeless substitute for the children that she never had. But, while Emin has never carried any of her pregnancies to full term, she has given birth to art works and ideas that will far outlive her self; they are her carefully chosen legacy.
female artistpolaroidself portraitphotography