Tracey Emin: me, my selfie and I
please note this post is not by Jay Clapp Photography but from the photography news at the guardian for your viewing pleasure please feel free to use the share buttons at the bottom.
From photo booth candids to celebrity party shots, Tracey Emin reflects on how photographs – hers and others’ – have filled a childhood void
• Gallery: see more photographs from Tracey Emin’s book
When I was a child, there was a charity called Sunny Smiles. At school, around the age of eight or nine, we were given their tiny little books, containing hundreds of images of orphaned children. The idea was each page could be torn out and sold for a penny. All the money was then sent to orphanages around the UK. The sad thing was that all the cute babies and toddlers would sell in a flash. Then we were left with the not-so-attractive older unwanted children. The strange thing for me, even though I knew I wasn’t adopted, was that on first handling a Sunny Smiles book, I would pour through every page looking for a photo of myself. A mad thing to do, as I had grown up with images of myself: as a baby; with my twin brother; being held in my mother’s arms; being pushed in a giant double pram; sitting on a beach on Turkey’s Black Sea coast (a family photo of us surrounded by Turkish wrestlers).
Up until the age of four, I had a weird little princess look about me. Long golden curly hair, white gloves, handbag and ankle socks. Posing for the photographer looking straight into the lens. Giant almond-shaped eyes. Miniature button turned-up nose. Sad pouty turned-down lips. Never ever a smile. I saw all these images of myself and other family members in my mum’s photo album. There was only one album. It had a romantic cover of two lovers walking into a palm tree sunset. The album didn’t just have straightforward photos. She had cut some figures so they would be floating or just suspended on the page. The album went from the late 1950s with her husband Frank Cashin; my elder brother Alan and their life in west Africa; my mum travelling with my father by road through Turkey in the 1960s; and finally, our strange dysfunctional life in Margate in the 1970s.
And after that, there are hardly any photos – apart from the ones my brother and I took ourselves with our little camera, and the obligatory school photos taken every year, where I look strange (a giant smile but unhappy behind my eyes). There are hardly any photos of family occasions or events. This is because we never really existed like a family. I grew up with a strange extended family of people coming and going. My mum worked from 7am to 9pm. My father lived with his new wife, and we rarely saw him. After the age of seven, moments captured on camera were few and far between. There was no responsible witness. The eye behind the camera just wasn’t there. So there are massive gaps in the documentation of my childhood. This would explain why so much of my work relates to memories of my early years. A need to clarify and confirm events. Not all palatable. I did not grow up with any images of the family that marked time.
I love the photo booth. Photo booth photos were how I marked time. From the age of 10 to my 30s, I have documented my mood and face alone in the photo booth. When I was 13, my purse went missing at school. Inside were maybe 50 strips of photo booth photos. I found my purse some time later. I then found all my photos in a pile in the corner of the playground, ripped into tiny pieces. I knew then how bad this was, not because they were my photos, but because it was all I had to prove to myself who I had been and how I appeared. They were my identity. The memory of my own existence. And someone had destroyed them.
Somehow, since my teenage years, so much more has been documented. At 17, I even tried to emulate my mother’s exotic photo album, with floating cut-outs of myself and friends, suspended in time. Now, in my mind, both these albums collide into one. I feel my book is similar to those albums – a document of the passing of time. An invisible line held by the hand of a ghost, moving from one world to the next. I think when I’m old, I’m really, really going to like this book even more.
• Tracey Emin, My Photo Album, is published by FUEL, price £19.95.
via Art and design: Photography | guardian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/may/06/tracey-emin-me-selfie-i Tracey Emin Thanks for reading Jay
Posted on May 6, 2013, in Photography News and tagged Art and design: Photography | guardian.co.uk, arts, guardian, IFTTT, info, information, journal, news, newspaper, photo, photography, Tracey Emin. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.