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Coronavirus Diary: Tracey Emin shares her daily life in self-isolation


British artist Tracey Emin is documenting the daily routine in her life amid a coronavirus lockdown by posting diary entries through the White Cube Gallery.

Emin, whose work has regularly featured deeply personal reflection of her life, offers another glimpse into her daily routine with the latest series. “A diary suits me, the way I work and think. I write daily but not a diary,” Emin tells The Art Newspaper.

She added: “We need art, all kinds of art. We need to encourage museums and galleries to do as many diverse projects and interventions as possible. This could be an opportunity to learn more about artists and their practice.”

“Over the next seven days, Tracey Emin is sharing a diary of images and thoughts reflecting on the circumstances of the day,” White Cube Gallery explains. “For Tracey, art has always been profoundly inseparable from her own life experience. Her works often draw upon fragments of handwriting that can read like confessions pulled from love letters or a diary.

“Reflecting deeply personal feelings and emotions, she encourages us to identify with her inner world and come to terms with our own.⁣”

See the diary entries, below.

Tracey Emin Diary Day 1

Starting off the project, on March 26, Emin posted a video of her in the bath while eating breakfast and drinking coffee. “Today I would be happy,” she writes. “Today I would celebrate my solitude… if I were not filled with an overpowering sense of fear. A darkness that has made me want to live more than ever,” Emin writes in her first post. “I was almost content, to sit and wait out my end.”

She continues: “To hurt to fight anymore… But not now, now I want to live and fuck and love and scream… I’m going to climb out of my horrible little hole that grave that trapped me for so long and I’m going straight towards the sun… I’m going to feel warmth and safety and kindness and all that I ever dreamt I could feel.


Tracey Emin Diary Day 2

In her second entry the following day, the artist uploads a picture of Spitalfields Church with the accompanying caption: “My view at dawn… Today there were no birds singing and I feel nothing… a numbness that sweeps over my body, a giant culling machine… feeling dead from the inside… But I can still see… looking out of my mind’s eye, a beautiful world.”

She adds: “My eyes focus on the early light… happy dancing around on things I have truly never seen before. It’s like falling in love with the one you love again and again and again and again… Beautiful morning you came.”

Tracey Emin Diary Day 3

Turning the camera back onto herself, Emin uploads a selfie while explaining her feelings of irrational anger that have dominated the past 24 hours. “Today there was something wrong with me,” she writes. “There’s still is something not right. I’m angry… but I don’t have the energy to show it… it’s living inside me, festering, moving around, doing a takeover of my soul.”

Emin continues: “Twisting and hurting all the good inside of me…I shouted at a complete stranger today…I screamed.. get between the lines you fucking idiot but there [sic] stupidity wasn’t what made me angry… Or the fact that they sniggered with there mate!

I actually woke up angry. I woke up hurt… I woke up alone… this morning on this sofa… after swearing to God I wouldn’t… No will to power!”

Tracey Emin Diary Day 4

On day four of Emin’s self-isolation story she turns to her work. In a video uploaded from her studio, Emin offers a close-up viewing of one of her paintings that continues to be in a period if incompletion. “I’ve been working on this painting for nearly six months… it’s not finished… it’s never finished.”

She added: “I’ve painted over it five times.. and it’s had six different paintings on it… this is the 6th and I just painted over this one too in a thick coat of manic black.

“I will not compromise… not on who I am or what I do.”

Tracey Emin Diary Day 5

Remaining in her studio for the next entry, Emin again details the daily battles to stop herself working on a single piece. “Today I slept a lot… then I came to the studio and painted more black… I had to,” she writes.

“Then I covered the painting with polythene in the hope I might just stop painting over it but it keeps me here.”

Tracey Emin Diary Day 6

Self-isolation life for Emin seems to have revolved solely around living, working and sleeping in her studio and, on day 6, the artist takes to social media early in the morning: “It’s 4:45 in the morning and this is my studio and this is how it is until I decide to paint over it,” the artist explains while the camera pans around the room.

After showing some of her work in progress, Emin points the camera to a sofa in the room before explaining: “And this is where I sleep. I sleep.”