Tracey Emin: My Life In A Column

'I went to Louise Bourgeois' show – there were big vaginal things that were frightening but amazing'
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Art, art, art everywhere. I'm OD-ing fast and my brain is turning into a really mushy, syrupy thing. One image after another flying through my mental sphere and hanging on to the end of my retina. Dots are beginning to float on a permanent basis two or three inches from my eyes. My kidneys are screaming: "No more white wine, no more champagne!" And my stomach is rejecting any canapé that comes near me. It's a well known trick for columnists to write lists to get their word count in. And I never normally write a column that says just "this week I have done this", but I'm just going to now run through the last week with you.

Thursday 4 October

I wrote my column. I then went to the Royal Academy for the launch of my little mouse car, the Fiat 500. I posed for photographers as the car gleamed and smiled with its scratchy Emin drawing on its side. I then went to Gary Hume's show at White Cube, which was amazing, really sexy. There's something about Gary's paintings that makes me melt and I had the whole place to myself to look at them.

I then went back to the Royal Academy, where I was guest of honour at a fund-raiser. I had to host a table of 10 friends and then give a dinner question and answer speech, in front of about 300 people, with the curator David Thorp. I got home about 2am.

Friday 5 October

Got up at 6.30am and met my friend the art advisor Amanda Love at Gatwick. We flew to Venice, where I visited the biennale, first of all stopping off at the British pavilion to see my own work. There have been between 1,000 and 2,000 people visiting a day. Yes, A DAY. I was instantly recognised and gently mobbed wherever I went. In the French pavilion, I would give Sophie Calle the prize for the most professional hang, and then I would give Isa Genzken in the German pavilion a prize for the most nutty installation. I'd give the Americans a prize for the cool generosity of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. I could go into great detail explaining everything I looked at, what I thought, how I was feeling, but within five hours I probably saw over 2,000 works. I ended up with a crushing migraine.

Saturday 6 October

Feeling atrocious – the migraine completely debilitated the sight in my left eye. Like the walking wounded I took on eight more pavilions outside the Giardini. I then took on the blockbuster shows. When I say "take on" I mean intellectually take on the exhibition like it's a challenge. Like you're trying to work out the physical and mental space of the juxtopositioning of the works. So, for example, at the Palazzo Grassi, which is exhibiting François Pinault's collection, there were works I didn't like, but I loved the way they bounced off other works. You saw the corner of a Franz West sculpture alongside an Urs Fischer or the glaring gaudiness of Laura Owens. By the time I got to the top floor I was almost feverish with excitement. The art was having an effect. My headache was lifting and a sense of euphoria was sweeping over me. I loved the show. Visually, what once I would have thought I didn't like had proved me wrong.

Then I visited art heaven – the Musei Civici at the Palazzo Fortuny. The show begins with an El Anatsui giant woven curtain, which reminded me of skin. Then I went inside and saw the Francis Bacon, and I immediately got a sense of the whole show. It was going to be about flesh – the decaying, the rotting, the live, the visceral and sexual. This show is so exquisite that by the time I got to the top I was almost at the point of orgasm. At the same time my headache had come back. I had had a complete mental overload. I was visually saturated.

Sunday 7 October

Did the Arsenale – another 500 works.

Monday 8 October

Doris Salcedo and Louise Bourgeois at Tate. I did make the joke about who has the biggest crack at Tate Modern, but apparently lots of people had already said that. Louise Bourgeois' show is so elegant. For someone who you feel is an extreme space-filler, the show came across as being refined, with air and grace, and some of the works scared me. Then dinner. Then art party.

Tuesday 9 October

I visited a photography show, followed by Louise Bourgeois prints at Marlborough Fine Art, then on to her show at Hauser & Wirth, where there were some big vaginal things that were frightening but amazing – not bad for a woman of 95. I then saw another show of extremely ambitious drawings by a young man. I was confused as to how he'd made them, but not as confused as everyone is about how Doris Salcedo made her crack. Then to White Cube to see the Chuck Close. Dinner. Then White Cube party at the Ritz. Then the Gagosian party at Nobu. Then my brain blew a gasket.


I spent all day at Frieze Art Fair. I cannot begin to describe... millions of galleries, millions of people, millions of collectors, tons of art.... but I got through it. Well enough to have a fantastic dinner hosted by Dylan Jones at Annabel's and then a wild, fantastic party at Sketch where I danced with Tony Shaffffrazzzzi and had wonderful conversation with David LaChapelle. And now, I'm off to five different shows and the Zoo Art Fair, and then I'm going to have dinner at Shoreditch House as a guest of the Cartier Foundation. I'm exhausted.

PS: One of my cars (Fiat 500 with my drawing on) will be auctioned this Saturday at Phillips de Pury at 4pm, and 15 per cent of the proceeds go to Peas (Promoting Equality in African Schools).