British, born 1963
Tracey Emin's work is intensely autobiographical, providing viewers with brief but powerful visual and text-based messages. During the 1990s, Emin rose to notoriety through her involvement with the Young British Artists, or YBAs, a group whose members privileged shock value and unconventional methods of self-promotion. In neon, embroidery, video, photography, and mixed-media installations, Emin reveals the most intimate details of her own life. She addresses the painful, yet regularly shared, experiences of sexual violence, substance abuse, failed relationships, and familial tensions with brutal candor and a poetic sense of humor that can, at times, be challenging. This work, for example, bears the cryptic message “Only God Knows I’m Good” in a script the artist modeled on her handwriting. It is part of a series of works in which the Emin explores recurring themes of love, sex, and lust, and Emin appropriated the text from the title and lyrics of a 1969 song by David Bowie. Her decision to execute the statement in white neon indicates a visual play on the iconography of purity and juxtaposition of a sense of innocence with her provocative persona.