Coinciding with Art Basel in Miami Beach
of Contemporary Art, North Miami
Emin: Angel Without You
”, Emin’s first solo show at
an American museum, which is also the first-ever exhibition to focus on her
crucial body of works in neon. The extensive show, featuring over 60 works by
Emin from the past two decades, is appropriately held at MOCA North Miami, as it was the first American museum to purchase
one of her works when it acquired the seminal film Why I Never
Became a Dancer
in 1998. We caught up with
acclaimed curator Bonnie Clearwater for her insights on the exhibition—which
she describes as “a revelation”—her
final show at the museum.
Clearwater reveals that the show’s
title refers to “a monumental piece [Emin] is creating
especially for MOCA’s courtyard.” This work, like her other confessional neon
phrases, began with an “internal dialogue.” Existing “as relics that carry
their own history,” Clearwater explains that the neon works are each drawn from
Emin’s personal history.
Clearwater was Emin’s fascination with mystical practices of Islamic Sufism and
Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet. She reveals that Emin wrote her master’s
thesis on the subject at the Royal College of Art, and that “When Emin is
trying to discover if love exists, she is aspiring to the divine love in Rumi’s
The first neon was
Emin’s iconic The Tracey Emin Museum,
which opens the show, and was created in 1995,
the same year as her famous tent Everyone I Ever Slept With.
Clearwater explains that Emin’s experimentation with neon “marks a transition
in her career.” She continues: “Rather than the confessional messages of her
earlier work, the neons are at once more cryptic and universal as they use the
second person pronoun instead of referencing specific names. They are like love
letters left for a loved one to read.”
Emin: Angel Without You” on view at MOCA North Miami, Dec. 4–Mar. 9, 2014.