British artist and Royal Academician Tracey Emin is renowned for her deeply intimate and often controversial artworks. Her 1997 work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 – which featured a tent appliquéd with all the names of people she had ever slept with (literally and sexually) – stormed the artworld achieving iconic status and her 1999 work, My Bed – an installation of her own unmade dirty bed, used condoms and blood-stained underwear earned her a Turner Prize nomination. Frequently autobiographical her work focuses on the role of subjectivity and personal histories in the construction of art. Powerful and provocative Emin has received praise from both critics and the public for her various forms of personal expression, which include needlework and sculpture, drawing, video and installation, photography and painting. Inspiring older figures in art – see her collaborations with Louise Bourgeois – to emerging artists, Emin recognises her influence as a role model in the artworld. Her latest project as Art Ambassador for British Airways will see Emin seek out and mentor an art protégé, with whom she will collaborate with to produce artwork for the livery on 12 aircrafts, officially flying millions of guests and team in for the 2012 Games.
Here in Jefferson Hack’s modern interpretation of the original Proust Questionnaire Emin talks about aeroplanes, giggle fits with Stephen Fry and never giving up.
What are you thinking of right now?
I’m thinking about my new boat Docket 2 being launched into the water on Tuesday.
What makes you laugh?
Last night – Stephen Fry and his partner Stevie made me laugh so much that I had a giggling fit for the first time in ages.
What makes you cry?
What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
Lots – at the moment Louise Bourgeois and Picasso.
Where do you feel most at home?
In the water.
Where are you right now?
Feeling quite happy.
What is your proudest achievement in work?
My show at the Hayward Gallery, Love is What You Want.
What is your proudest achievement in life?
Never giving up.
What do you most dislike about contemporary culture?
What do you most like about the age we live in?
That it’s multicultural, diverse, and exciting.
At what points do life and work intersect?
With me, every day, every moment, every second and maybe that’s why I find it very difficult to have a relationship.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Measure twice cut once.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Trying to commit suicide and it not working.
Recommend a book or poem that has changed your perspective on life?
What is your earliest childhood memory?
Drinking tea from a bottle. I remember it distinctly because I had my twin brother’s bottle and he had mine. It had a blue teet. I remember thinking there is strange stuff in this bottle – milky tea. Maybe that is why I’m such a massive tea drinker now.
What’s the most important relationship in your life?
Whoever’s the next person to call [phone rings] Jay Jopling.
What’s the most romantic action you’ve taken?
I sent someone 100 red roses. It might sound crass but it is amazing if it ever happens to you.
What’s the most spiritual action you’ve taken?
To be celibate for a very long time. Years.
If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
I’d eradicate HIV and AIDs.
Introduction by Lucia Davies
Lucia Davies is the AnOther Editorial Assistant and a regular contributor to Dazed Digital. She has also contributed to titles that include Dazed & Confused and Twin.