Thursday, 8 May 2014

'What's the point of it?' Martin Creed, The Hayward Gallery

Mentioning the balloons first is perhaps a catastrophic error,
because like most of the attendees of ‘What’s the point of it’ the Martin Creed retrospective at The Hayward on that day, your mind will now be on getting to them. You will miss the video that tracks a penis erecting and softening out on one of the terraces and the visual pun will be lost on you. You will not see the pink glittery broccoli, or the cream broccoli on the white background, or hear the giggle-inducing flatulence recording because you are thinking about the balloons.

Since the show opened, it has been hard not to envy those who seized the chance to bound their way through the beautiful abyss of enormous white air-filled pieces of latex. Although it is only one of the 160 pieces on show, Work No. 200 Half the air in a given space (1998) is a the piece you cannot leave the show without seeing and I beg anyone to differ. Perhaps this is because it is a place to lose yourself, a place to stretch your body and in lieu of a better cliché, your mind. Perhaps because it is immersive, encompassing, it  is a microclimate in which normal rules don’t apply. Time stops, age becomes irrelevant, fully grown men bound towards you with toddlers on their shoulders through a rolling sea of white like an excited labrador in the first snow of winter. It is liminal. It is escapism. It is also the only part of the entire show where photography is not prohibited, and instagram is a much better place for that reason. 

‘What’s the Point of it?’ is the causatum of two and a half decades of Turner Prize winning Creed’s distinctive approach to art making. He challenges what we consider art to be, and what we think it looks like, he gives us the stimuli to form the questions and  a space to ask them in. In a recent talk by Pavel Buchler at The University of Leeds, he said it is the artists’ job to make the work make sense to himself, in order to make it make sense to other people. It is not the artists job to make sense of himself, to other people. Whats the point of it? sits awkwardly within this thinking, for the work is at times so simple in its fabrication that it is at risk of being nonsense, but at the time it addresses ‘everyone else’ so directly by using familiar objects and familiar materials that it makes nothing but sense. Perhaps this is the real reason that the balloon room is so popular, because we can get so wrapped up in it, using our most primitive senses combined with our own consciousness to make it make sense to us.

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