Artist Rooms: Martin Creed – Tate Liverpool

Martin Creed may not currently be a name familiar (unlike his most famous work) but by the time his latest Artist Rooms exhibition at Tate Liverpool has had time to settle, the association with infamy and the grotesque will probably be firmly cemented into the psyche of the people of Liverpool.

Creed was born in 1968 in Wakefield and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art before finding major success in 2001 when he won the Turner Prize with his infamous The Lights Going On and Off which consisted of a room with lights literally going on and off… This controversy has followed Creed since 2001 and looking at what the artist has done with the gallery space at Tate Liverpool, it’s not hard to see why he’s become such a divisive figure in the art world.

The Artist’s Room consists of several works across various different media and forms yet very little emotional content is present in the works, all of which have numbered titles rather than names.  There is a nice visual contrast between the black emulsion painted stripes of Work No. 1340 and the small canvas shapes of Works 1102 through 1105 but in the end it lacks any real desire to meet a real creative goal.  The rest of the works sadly have this feel too though Work No. 890; DON’T WORRY does have a pleasant visual aesthetic compared to the rest of the room as its neon lit words have a Douglas Adams like calm to them.

Martin Creed
Work No. 890, DON’T WORRY 2008
Yellow neon: 20 in / 50.8 cm high
Installation at Hauser & Wirth London, London, UK 2009
© Martin Creed Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Mike Bruce

The real talking point however is Work No. 837, which will at least raise some discourse about what art really means to people.  Sat in the middle of the massive space, the work consists of four separate televisions that display sound and video of people being sick.  Whether the video has any particular message is highly debatable but the reactions from the general public out for a casual stroll round an art gallery can be far more entertaining than the actual work itself.  Similar to his Turner Prize winning efforts, Work No.837 screams of gimmick and though darkly humorous, is highly uncomfortable to sit through with its audio of vomiting invading the space horrifically, even adding an extra element to the other works on display.

Overall, this is a step down from the wonderful Robert Therrien Artist Rooms of last year.  However the exhibition opens up an interesting and engaging debate about Art and for that alone it deserves credit.

Cover image :

Martin Creed 

Work No. 944 2008
Pen on paper: 21 parts, each 11.7 x 8.2 in / 29.7 x 21 cm; overall dimensions variable
Installation at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, 2008
© Martin Creed Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
Photo: Stuart Whipps

Adam Scovell

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