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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Is There Any Point? Martin Creed at the Southbank Centre - Exhibition Review

Martin Creed is a minimalist artist whose works have provoked controversial responses throughout his career yet are always surprising and never fail to provide entertainment. Whether entertainment comes from the intentions of his works or from the fact he is willing to call a stack of chairs art, his work remains shameless and engaging. But is there really any academic essence, or any point at all in fact, that art students like myself can take from this? Or should we be offended that he has the audacity to stick blue tack on the gallery wall and give it a work title and place in the guidebook? Read on to find out more about the exhibition...

This was an interesting exhibition and is a reflection of the contemporary art practices that keep popping up in galleries everywhere in the last few decades. It really made me question whether Martin Creed was displaying an in depth investigation the position of a gallery, the dealer, the artist, the audience and so on or whether there was actually no point to his exhibition and he is an artist simply taking advantage of the social and political framework of the art world today. Either way he manages to display scrunched up pieces of paper, neatly aligned cacti, and even a giant screen displaying a penis video, in the name of art.I'm not going to debate the tediousness of such work but I think that theme is central to the aesthetic of your viewing so just keep it as something worth considering. 

The exhibition is a major retrospective of his work. The works vary from video to sculpture to music to installations which you can enter. This exhibition literally has everything. I'd heard of the artist for his conceptual works such as the room in which lights turned on and off, which won the Turner Prize 2001. So I didn't expect to see drawings, sketches and paintings. Or even portrait photographs (talking of...his self-portrait is entertaining - the grinning, playful man is not who I'd expect to create such satirical and thought-invoking work). 
I quite liked the large neon signs which are scattered throughout the exhibition. Although simple, they're effective. Taking up the entire display space available in the Hayward Gallery makes this exhibition interactive. There is three floors, sculpture terraces, the foyer and even the toilet and lift occupied with artworks. So much better at keeping your interest than one four-walled, white room. But maybe I'm just biased against the traditional idea of a gallery space. 
The last piece, and probably the one which has drawn in much of its audience, is No. 200 'Half the air in a given space'. This balloon-filled room is the grand finale of the exhibition and honestly, my favourite bit. The large room is entirely filled with white balloons and the public is invited to enter it. You can spend as little or as long as you want in there. It sounds wierd but was pretty fun! The concept is exciting yet the room leaves you feeling a little disorientated and suffocated.  

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be stuck in a room of balloons? I managed to get a little video here: 

The tickets are £11 but being a student of course you get a discount. I'm also lucky enough to have one of these National Art Passes so it was only £5. Bargain! 

If you enjoy engaging with art or wonder what Martin Creed exhibits I'd encourage you to check it out. And, without spoiling it for you, I'll just say this is only for those with a strong stomach and an open mind!

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