Monday, December 17, 2001

Martin Creed

Turner Prize

In the current climate of hostility towards contemporary art, Martin Creed's work seems particularly provocative. His work lies delicately balanced between existing and not existing, a minimal gesture right on the edge of being nothing. Any notion of craft or the aesthetic is absent. Creed's work is a resolute defiance of any position - even the position of not having a position. It is slippery, hard to define. And brilliant.

Creed's work allows the viewer to define the meaning of his work for themselves. Not in the flippant, annoying way that, say, Jason Martin or Damien Hirst might. In a much more interesting way. Creed's work implodes every time you look at it. It swallows the space in which it is exhibited like a black hole. Every thought you have about the work is immediately ruled out as being definitive. Pinning Martin Creed down is almost as difficult as listening to an Owada record all the way through. Even his staccatto, repeated response to winning said so very little - "Thank. You. Very. Much."

"The lights going on and off" does things to the gallery space that the other artists in the show (other than Mike Nelson) don't even approach. The Tate Gallery becomes more than just a place to show, it becomes the medium of the piece.

Anyway - that's it for 2001. But roll-up, roll-up... this circus comes to town every year. Let's finish with the wise words of the critically execrable Madonna... "art isn't about competition... it's about love."

© John Brainlove 2001

The Turner Prize at Tate Britain from 7 November 2001 to 20 January 2002

Tate Britain, Millbank, London. SW1P 4RG
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