Martin Creed @ The Hayward Gallery

Martin Creed’s exhibition ‘What’s the point of it?’ at the Hayward Gallery appeared to be hell-bent on testing the limits of art to breaking point. ‘Half the air in a given space’ – an installation in which you are invited to enter a room full of white balloons and experience claustrophobia, disorientation and inordinate amounts of static was a high point along with ‘Mothers’ a huge neon sign (12.5m long) that took up half the first room and rotated around at random, sometimes seemingly dangerous, duck-inducing, speeds four inches over my head. Low points were ‘Sick and shit’ a film showing someone having a shit and someone else vomiting copious amounts of foodstuffs onto a plain white floor – both women I might add (not sure what this says about the artist?) and a giant screen exhibited outside the building showing someone’s penis gradually becoming erect. Surprisingly the back of the screen did not show the man’s buttocks.

In between these extremes were explorations of ziggurats – painted, wooden, composed of stacked planks, tables and chairs, protrusions growing from the walls like smooth plaster or metal boobs, a lump of Blutack stuck to the wall (Work No. 79), a scrumpled ball of paper, a Lego tower, 1000 multi-coloured broccoli prints (Work No. 1000, impressive perhaps only by the amount of frames used), a Ford Focus rigged to open its doors and sound its horn after detecting motion (Work No. 1686), an opening and closing door, a load of metronomes, a speaker emitting farting noises, and a piano on which you were invited to play each note on the keyboard.

A second piano possibly rigged electronically to produce some form of mischief was sadly out-of-order and it appeared that his various drawings and paintings were also malfunctioning – attempts at traditional art forms deconstructed in places into seemingly mindless scribbles. At the top of one set of stairs a large array of bright bulbs left ghosts on your retina perhaps intended to blind you from the truth that some of this stuff was just plain silly like the speaker near the toilets emitting laughter at you for ascribing any meaning to the block of tiles protruding from the wall near the urinals. In this visual cacophony of creativity I was surprised that there was no kitchen sink.

The car and the penis were displayed outside along with a third outside exhibit – a rather well constructed wall with a thoughtful pattern of bricks. I found that most people were, instead of looking at the wall, looking over the gallery balcony at a stationary cavalcade of black vehicles with tinted windows, waiting on the road to be escorted by police outriders, which included a limousine bearing the Union Jack and the US flag. I don’t know what this said about the wall or the people, but I was left debating the point of most of the exhibition and I guess that’s what Creed wanted.

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