Last weekend, we gained alarming droplets of information that Tracey Emin, former Turner Prize winner and forever Bad girl of British art, was suffering from cancer, escalating, full-blown during the pandemic. As a result, she underwent major surgery while our hospitals were crammed to the brim with covid coughing patients.
After being operated on by 12 surgeons for 6 1/2 hours, half of her lower abdomen organs and most of her vagina removed, the leading artist of the YBA generation shows us she’s still got Emin rhetoric:
‘I managed to keep all of my clitoris, not that it’s working.’
She is now in remission from the rapid, really aggressive cancer. Having to use a stoma bag, luckless, but she still wears the classically crooked smile on her face.
Bladder cancer is often misdiagnosed in women who are often treated for common urinary infections. The disease is often associated with old men and heavy smokers, but the artist who scattered numerous packets of Lambert and Buttler over ‘My Bed’ has not smoked for decades. Around 50% of sufferers of Bladder cancer with go onto dye from the disease, mainly due to late diagnosis.
An anxious time for Emin, she lost one of her cousin to covid over the summer months. Eminently familiar with the disease, her mother passing from a similar tumor in 2009.
Nonetheless, her reaction was not that of dread, despair or questioning mortality, she draws parallels between the bladder cancer diagnosis and the shape of the organ she has depicted on her latest abstract canvas. When she was first shown an image of the tumour, she noted that it was almost identical to a red painting she had been working on.
An immensely productive summer was the artists directive, despite her tiredness and requirement for recovery periods. She held a very successful show, Solitude, at the White Cude. Details of Love, opened at Xavier Hufkiens in Brussels last month. She has also been preparing for a show at the Royal Academy of Arts, Loneliness of the Soul, when she exhibits alongside Edvard Munch.
In addition to this, Emin found time to support the Black Life Matters protests. Of particular interest, the slave trader statue of Edward Colston being toppled in Bristol. Emin’ grandfather was a Sudanese slave who managed to breakout to liberation in Turkey at the onset of the last century.
In terms of artwork, Emin feels that she has much more to create. She is currently decamping from East London back to her childhood domain of Margate. In this she is looking to face her demons;
‘Darkness to get out before I die.’
Stoma bag in toe, she will be dipping into the murky waters of coastal Kent once more.
Emin drawing a parallel between bladder cancer and the mark-making processes of her canvasses reveal to all; she is an artist first and a human being second.