© Tracey Emin / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY.

Tracey Emin: Neon Sculptures and Prints

“Neon is emotional for everybody,” Tracey Emin has said. The feminist artist began working with neon gas lights in the early 1990s, using the industrial medium to share her passing thoughts and her deepest desires. With her own messy handwriting as the font, Emin’s neon sculptures and prints feature phrases that are deeply personal, but also universally relatable, such as “I fell in love here” and “Trust yourself.” More recently, Emin has expanded the scale of her neon writings by installing them in public spaces with the goal of bringing strangers together. In 2013, to celebrate Valentine’s Day in New York City, Emin was commissioned to bring her romantic neon phrases to Time Square, flashing declarations like “I promise to love you” and “You touch my soul” to passersby. Five years later, Emin unveiled a 20-meter-long neon sculpture in London’s St. Pancras station, which read, “I want my time with you”—a political message intended for immigrants arriving in Britain amidst Brexit concerns and a European migrant crisis.

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