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Tracey Emin documents ‘soul destroying' insomnia in new art show

The artist said she had been taking pictures of herself while sleepless before the popularity of the selfie.

Tracey Emin documents “crippling” insomnia in her new art show.

The artist, 55, has unveiled A Fortnight Of Tears, featuring sculpture, neon, painting, film, photography and drawing, at White Cube Bermondsey.

The show includes 50 self-portraits, blown up in size and taken with her camera phone, during periods of “soul destroying” insomnia.

Tracey Emin with The Mother during a preview of her A Fortnight Of Tears exhibition
Tracey Emin with The Mother during a preview of her exhibition A Fortnight Of Tears (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Other works include a huge bronze sculpture, The Mother, and a video featuring a wooden box containing her dead mother’s ashes.

Emin told how taking photographs of herself, in the early hours, helped while alone in moments of “distress” and having “dark thoughts”.

“For the last 10 years as I’ve got older it’s got more soul destroying…”, she said.

Tracey Emin at White Cube Bermondsey
The new exhibition opens on 6 February at White Cube Bermondsey (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“I started taking photos about four years ago. It was a case of, ‘I wonder what I look like…’

“I’ve got hundreds of them, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All my life I have been taking photographs of myself before it was a selfie.”

Emin, best known for works such as her unmade bed and the tent Everyone I Have Ever Slept With, said that she had been talking about issues like rape and bullying in her art before MeToo meant people were finally starting to listen.

“Suddenly I’m allowed to express myself,” she said.

Tracey Emin
The show features self-portrait photographs and sculpture (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Emin also criticised Brexit and called for a second referendum.

“If we leave Europe and it all turns out OK and we are happy eating our cabbages and we are happy living on our island with our island mentality, fine. I’ll go along with that. But, I don’t think it’s going to work out like that.”

She hit out at David Cameron over the EU referendum, despite installing a neon sculpture at Downing Street when he was prime minister.

“The poorest in our society are going to be the victims (of Brexit),” she said.

“The whole thing is a disaster, a mess.”

Tracey Emin: A Fortnight Of Tears runs from February 6 to April 7 at White Cube Bermondsey in London.

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