Martin Creed Plays Chicago

Abraham Ritchie on Creed’s rhythm


Posted July 10, 2012

Martin Creed: "Work No. 798" (2007) and "Work No. 1349" (2012); Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York

“That’s the thing about a rhythm; it’s reliable because it happens at predictable intervals, you know. But exactly the fact that it’s reliable helps you then to be in this big mess. You know, so those works that use repeated motifs or with intervals between them fulfill the function of giving me basically something like a handrail to hold onto on in constantly ever-changing world.” – Martin Creed

Ships slowly arrive at a harbor, dock, and unload. The sequence repeats. A ziggurat of boxes (perhaps unloaded from a ship), made of large to progressively smaller boxes, rises from the floor. Handmade squares checker a wall across from another wall, where stripes regularly divide the space. In the works by Martin Creed on view in the museum, the artist alludes to the way our lives are reliably regulated by day-to-day activity: transportation (Work No. 405), commerce (Work No. 916), and labor (Work No. 798 and Work No. 1349). The sum total of these actions, the titular work, allows things (a favorite word of Creed’s; see Work No. 845) to be brought from here to there, to be exchanged, to be made. It is this kind of stability and structure that the recent NATO protests in Chicago called into question. At whose expense does this stability come? Creed describes the world as a “big mess,” and his work reminds us of the importance of reliability.