'I promise to love you,' writes a phantom scribe in a pulsating scrawl across a billboard in New York's Times Square. But this is no Hallmark greeting to be exchanged between lovers. It is actually penned by British artist Tracey Emin, who - in characteristically candid form - is offering a whole series of soul-bearing confessions to the masses in the city's busiest hub.
Throughout the month of February, fifteen gargantuan billboards will be given over to the video art installation shortly before midnight. Digital art purveyor s[edition] has adapted six messages from one of Emin's most well-known neon series into moving images, all based on the theme of love, echoing her notoriously tumultuous personal life.
'All my work is about emotion, it's about feeling, it's about subjection, it's about witnessing, it's personal,' said Emin during an interview, adding, 'It isn't cathartic, but it really is a means for me to express myself. It's very old-fashioned and very traditional.'
The installation is the latest instalment of a public art initiative titled 'Midnight Moment', organised and supported by the Times Square Advertising Coalition in partnership with Times Square Arts, for which the Square is transformed into a digital art gallery in the evening. The program debuted in May of last year, and past artists have included Yoko Ono and former Wallpaper* guest editor Robert Wilson (see W* 139).
Emin's digital artworks are available to buy at s[edition], the online art vault established last year by Blain Southern co-founder Harry Blain and Robert Norton as a platform to distribute digital work by leading artists (such as Damien Hirst, Bill Viola, and Elmgreen & Dragset) at affordable prices. Says Emin of the collaboration: 'I like the idea of original pieces of art going directly to people for a low price because when you're an artist and you get to a certain level it means you've sort of forced yourself out of the market for a lot of people. [S[edition]] makes pure art available. And also it's a new medium, which I think's exciting.'
It appears that Emin's neon valentines messages coincide with a newfound courtship of America's contemporary art scene. From April, the British artist will descend on Chelsea where she will be collaborating with Louise Bourgeois' studio for a new project. Lehmann Maupin will be showing a double billing of her work at its branches (both in Manhattan) during May and North Miami's MOCA is presenting her first major solo museum exhibition in the US at the end of the year.