Abraham Ritchie

Abraham Ritchie works at the MCA and is an art critic and historian.

As 2012 comes to close, so too does Martin Creed’s yearlong residency at the MCA. A lot of our visitors chose to share their experiences of Martin Creed’s work on the web so we’ve selected some of our favorite responses to include here. Though we couldn’t include everything we loved, we tried to. Logically some works attracted more attention than others (say, the huge neon sign rotating on our plaza) so not all of Martin Creed’s pieces are represented. The following tweets are in roughly chronological order, beginning with the most recent. If you have a good photo you’d like to share with us, please leave a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Instagram, @mcachicago.


This is the 3rd ball of paper I’ve seen @mcachicago today w/o reference on object labels. is someone playing a prank?

 

The United Kingdom’s most prestigious art prize, the Turner Prize, was awarded yesterday. Congratulations to Elizabeth Price, who won the award.

In 2001, Martin Creed won the Turner Prize with the work shown below. We thought the occasion of the 2012 prize would be the perfect time to share this slightly hard-to-find video with you, plus a couple other of Martin Creed’s well-known works.

Martin Creed. Work No. 227, The Lights Going On And Off, 2000. In the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, learn more.

Martin Creed. Work No. 850 at Tate Britain.

We also thought our audience might like to see this video of Martin Creed’s installation at Hauser and Wirth, since a number of these works have made appearances at the MCA.

Martin Creed. Work No. 1190, Half the air in a given space, 2011. Gold balloons. Multiple parts, each balloon 16 in. (40.6 cm) diameter; overall dimensions variable. Installation view, Hyde Park Art Center, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Entering the sea of balloons from Martin Creed’s Work No. 1190, Half the air in a given space (2011) was not at all like I expected. As the Social Media Coordinator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago I had already seen a number of pictures of smiling, laughing people posted on Twitter, so I hitched a ride with another staff member to see the artwork that everyone was enjoying firsthand.

It being a Monday morning it was peaceful at the Hyde Park Art Center, and I was ushered into the balloon gallery alone. Immediately I had some reservations, along with a bemused smile. Balloons quickly and completely envelop you—that’s part of the fun, but it’s also disorientating. Your attention is immediately drawn to your physical being. Even as your senses are hindered by balloons, they seem to be at their height as you attempt to negotiate a path through the balloons. I imagine the feeling is something like a sensory-deprivation chamber; your faculties are paradoxically heightened as they are impeded. Your sight is compromised by balloons, reduced to only a couple of feet immediately in front of you, peripheral vision is cut off entirely. Your nose is filled with the smell of latex (allergic visitors please beware). That day the room was silent, interrupted only by loud squeaks of balloons on balloons as I attempted to move, which once again drew my attention to my bodily movement through the space.

This is a dimension of the serious side of Martin Creed’s very playful and fun artwork—its ability to bring your attention to the space you inhabit every day, but perhaps do not always notice: your body. You could write this work off as too crowd-pleasing, not “serious” enough, but that would miss what the artist is trying to show you about yourself.

If you walked past the MCA plaza sometime in the last few weeks you may have noticed some construction work going on. In early August, the pace accelerated and Martin Creed’s Work No. 1357 MOTHERS quickly took shape.

Here is the story in photos.

All images: Martin Creed: Work No. 1357, MOTHERS, 2012 (MCA Chicago Plaza Project, install in progress). White neon, steel. 22.4 x 47.6 feet (6.8 x 14.5 m). Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York. Photo: Abraham Ritchie, © MCA Chicago.

The London 2012 Olympics are under way and Chicago joined friends in the United Kingdom in ringing in the games with Martin Creed’s participatory Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes.

Here at the MCA, we lacked a physical bell so we set our computers to ring digitally at 2:12 am so we would be ringing at the same time as those in the United Kingdom.

Further to the south, University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel rang their bells too, sounding out “God Save the Queen.”

The project seems to have gone off without a hitch. Well maybe there was one problem, but at least no one was hurt.

Or, if you prefer, the disco remix version.

With the London Olympics under way, the United Kingdom and Martin Creed rung in the games with Work No. 1197: All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes performed precisely at 8:12 am on July 27.

The Independent recently wrote an insightful profile of Creed, detailing his personal life, musical interests, and art, not all of which are easily separated.

On his inspiration to become an artist: ”They [my parents] are Quakers and I grew up being taught that art and music were the highest things you could do.”

On his motivation to make art: “Often I wake up with a horrible feeling, like a nightmare carried into the day. Trying to make something that someone else might like makes me feel better.”

Read the whole profile from The Independent.

On the 27th of July, at 8:12 am, London time, Martin Creed’s Work No. 1197: “All the bells in a country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes” will be realized as Londoners ring whatever bells they have as part of the celebration for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. You can see what bell events are planned and by whom (the Royal Navy is even participating) on the All the Bells website.

In celebration of the London 2012 Games and Martin Creed’s yearlong residency here at the MCA, and in a spirit of unity with those participants in the United Kingdom, the museum will also be ringing a bell simultaneously with our European counterparts—meaning we will be ringing a bell or two at the early hour of 2:12 am. We will document the ringing and post it at a later date, please continue to check this blog or follow us on Twitter for updates.

The MCA is also honored to be joined by other bell ringers in the city, including the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel.

You can also ring along with Martin Creed here in Chicago by ringing your bell at 2:12 am (CST) “as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes,” according to the instructions for the artwork. Add your event here, or check if there’s one near you.

 

“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.

“I don’t know what art is. It’s a magic thing because it’s to do with feelings people have when they see something. If the work is successful, it’s because of some magic quality it has,” Martin Creed (seen above, on right) remarked to the Guardian.

Read the whole Guardian profile of our 2012 artist in residence, Martin Creed, including his upcoming project for the London Olympics.