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20th Century Artists - In their Own Words


Creator is exactly [It is not known who shot the film, or whether it was scripted.]
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  • Why I Never Became a Dancer
    Emin uses her emotional life as the source and subject matter of her art. This takes the form of narrative or documentation of traumatic events such as the death of a family member or close friend, her rape and her abortions, coupled with the direct expression of such feelings as love, hate, anger, fear and desire. Autobiographical and diaristic texts appear on her monoprints, her quilt-like wall hangings and in small publications such as Explorations of the Soul 1994 (an edition of 200); or they are narrated aloud, as in this video. Her artistic production could be seen as an attempt to find a therapeutic resolution to her damaged past and the continuing difficulties and frustrations of the present. This creative attitude is encapsulated in words appliquéed on a chair she inherited from her grandmother: 'It's not what you inherit. It's what you do with your inheritance.' By sharing thoughts and feelings of the type for which people are generally made to feel ashamed, Emin taps into collective experience in an affirmative way. Why I Never Became a Dancer was made in an edition of ten. It invokes the artist's early teenage years spent kicking against the boredom of the seaside town, Margate, where she grew up, and experimenting with sex from an early age until she became disillusioned with men and turned instead to dancing. Beginning with the title words written large on a wall, the camera pans around views of Margate significant to Emin's past, including the school she attended, the sea front, shopping arcades and a dramatic clock tower. This sequence is overlaid with the voice of the artist narrating her story. The video climaxes with her attempt to win the finals of the local disco-dancing competition and escape to London to compete for the British Disco Dance Championship 1978. And as I started to dance people started to clap I was going to win and then I was out of here Nothing could stop me And then they started SLAG SLAG SLAG (Words from the video narrated by the artist, quoted in Brown, p.29.)