Stacking up: Martin Creed’s anti-materialistic use of everyday objects
Martin Creed’s work has a strangely exciting monotony. Whether it involves a lone runner tearing around Tate Britain every 30 seconds or a light turning on and off (scoring him the Turner Prize 2001), the artist delights in repetition, with extraordinary results. This time, at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery, he has created a series of stacked objects, created from chairs, tables and pieces of lego. What could be a laborious body of work is instead a witty and anti-materialistic use of everyday objects.
Why this insistence on repetition? ’I’ve often consciously tried to make my work more like music,’ says Creed in a new tome on the artist by Thames & Hudson. ’Rhythm, whether musical or visual, is a comfort.’
Elsewhere in the gallery, the Scotsman has turned a staircase into a synthesiser, with each step sounding a different note as visitors walks up or down it. This echoes his larger new public sculpture - a renovation of part of Edinburgh’s Scotsman Steps in contrasting marbles - to be unveiled later this year.
The Fruitmarket Gallery is also showing Creed’s film, Work No. 732 – in which the artist kicks over a group of plants in a moment of angst - on the nearby BBC Big Screen Edinburgh. And it has teamed up with Sadler’s Wells to present Creed’s ballet, Work No. 1020, at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Based around the five positions in ballet and the notes of the musical scale, with dancers and a live band (including Creed himself), it is another amusing and thoughtful play on everyday order.
Published alongside the exhibition, Thames & Hudson’s epic new monograph on the artist includes nearly 600 works - almost his entire oeuvre - as well as commentary by the likes of Colm Tóibín, Germaine Greer and Barry Humphries. Emblazoned on its spine is an extraordinary declaration from the artist:
’I fear this book
I dare not look
As bit by bit
I trawl my shit.
I don’t think I want to make a book of my work. I am scared to look at what I have done in case I don’t like it.’
Presumably, several hundred pages later, this sense of trepidation has passed.