Martin Creed

Artvehicle 16/Review

12th May 2007 — 27th May 2007

Martin Creed's latest exhibition at Hauser & Wirth's Coppermill is a fabulous orchestration of the artist's most recent works. When entering the old depot off Brick Lane, the lights were off and all I could see was a huge screen showing a slow black and white motion picture close up of a shaved cock sliding in to a woman's buttocks. Work no 730 (2007) a black and white 35mm film, transferred to DVD, 4 minutes 10 seconds, so read the label. Just one single frame and one single shot capturing the slow rhythm of the male genitalia gently sliding in and out to an almost hypnotic beat. Without reaching any climax or conclusion, the film stops and the lights go on. For the opening, the projection was accompanied by an orchestra, Work No 673 Piece for 18-part Orchestra and 1 conductor (2007). Facing the conductor's podium, at one side of the screen, 18 players sat in a single line according to pitch, from the highest (the triangle) to the lowest (the drums). The orchestra played the same three chords first quietly, then loud and finally a medium tone. The music melted perfectly with the rhythmic movements of the pelvis and buttocks on the screen.

Once the lights went on, other objects appeared in the space. A stack of plywood plates, Work no 725 (2007); a lonely piano sitting behind the plywood against the wall, Work no 736, Piano Accompaniment (2007) which, as the instructions read, has to be played up and down along the keys for 1 minute and 30 seconds repeatedly. On the other side of the warehouse three steel I-beams, Work no 700 (2007), each over 12 metres long, sit on top of each other, ordered by size. Behind the I-beams, covering the far white wall and starting at the top right, a series of diagonal black stripes Work no 470, Wall Painting (2007) have been painted with a 12-inch roller, at 12-inch intervals. There are some smaller works hung on one wall, a quirky sketch of a smiling woman, with hues of blue, yellow and green, Work no 657 Smiling Woman (2007) that somehow doesn't really makes much sense in the context of this show or in Creed's works, and a row of seven flat-headed nails tapped into the wall, Work no 701 (2007), ordered according to size, each one slightly bigger than the following one. Finally, there is a yellow neon light, Work No. 671 (2007), with the word FRIENDS that goes on and off every 10 seconds, and that made me smile, like the girl in the quirky drawing.

Everything falls into the right place and there is a slow cadence to the whole installation: the lights go off again, the film starts, the music plays, and so on and so forth. Creed's work is often determined by rigorous structures, relational systems and linguistic games that constrain and give an order to all the objects that constitute it. In all these structures humour - and that comes mainly with the artist's attitude to his work - is fundamental. Humour brings a shadow of doubt to all we see and read. Together with irony and misunderstanding, humour is a mechanism that brings thought out of its ordinary domain, and questions all the information that we store in a reflexive way. Creed's calculated structures and arrangements of objects following size and shape or constructions of works following instructions, are full of simplicity and stripped of any sign of pretentiousness. Ultimately, they established a space in which we come closer to reality, to simple things just as they are, and now also to basic human functions: to being sick, defecating and fucking, emptied from any sentimental, moral or any other judgemental implications. They are just things ordered by a given structure and people following instructions, all carefully arranged within a mesmerizing space.


Hauser & Wirth Coppermill
92-108 Cheshire Street
London E2 6EJ

Thursday-Sunday, 12-7pm

Martin Creed —  Martin Creed Installation View Hauser & Wirth Coppermill, 2007 (c) Hauser & Wirth Zürich London Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London. Photography by Hugo Glendinning

Martin Creed
Installation View Hauser & Wirth Coppermill, 2007
(c) Hauser & Wirth Zürich London
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London.
Photography by Hugo Glendinning