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Tracey Emin’s romantic history has always been the crux of her work – something that can be credited to her diaristic style revealed through explicit drawings, confessional embroideries, and garish, sleazy neons. Whether you love her, hate her, or love to hate her, Emin is unquestionably one of contemporary art’s most illustrious figures. It’s therefore somewhat of a surprise that her upcoming show Tracey Emin: Angel without You at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), North Miami, is her first solo show in the United States.
The exhibition (opening December 4) kicks off Art Basel Miami Beach with more than 60 of Emin’s most emotive – and popular – neon works. Spanning her two-decade career, the show includes pieces such as Sorry Flowers Die (1999) and I can feel your smile (2005), both of which are transcribed into neon from her distinctive handwritten scrawl. Why I Never Became a Dancer (1995), acquired by the museum back in 1998, is also on show, and displays an incongruence between her deeply personal video work and the neon texts; the video is a candid detailing of her early sexual adventures as an adolescent growing up in Margate, England, a town replete with neon signs.
“As an early supporter of Tracey’s work, we’re thrilled to mount this unprecedented exploration of her neon sculptures,” Bonnie Clearwater, curator of the exhibition, said in a statement. “[It’s] a medium that is not only appropriate to the neon-rich cityscape of South Florida, but has its origins in Emin’s hometown as captured in the film Why I Never Became a Dancer.”
There is already a buzz surrounding the exhibition as it prepares to open next month; and considering P. Diddy allegedly paid $95,000 for Emin’s I Listen To The Ocean And All I Hear Is You neon in 2011 at Art Basel Miami Beach, it looks set to be one of the most talked about shows this week.