Antonia Callas

Martin Creed Takes the Stage

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Posted November 13, 2012

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Martin Creed is presenting Work No. 1020 (Ballet) on the MCA Stage this week. This is his last trip to Chicago as part of his yearlong residency at the MCA. Creed is an artist who sees little to no distinction between disciplines, moving sinuously between visual art, music, film, and with this work, dance. In fact, he sees little distinction between making art and just being in the world. I really love that idea—the idea that art and life are inextricably tangled in each other, that just being in the world is making art. It makes perfect sense when you see some of Creed’s installations that are scattered throughout the MCA.

In this performance, Creed plays lead guitar with his London-based band and dancers culled from Sadler’s Wells Theatre. The composed dance uses only the five core positions of classical ballet, each paired with a musical note. Having been a dancer, I know that the five positions are the basic language of dance, the building blocks. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of creating a dance using only these somewhat restrictive and obviously minimalist postures. The simplicity of the movement belies the discipline, and limitations are always a way to explore creativity.

Along with presenting the ballet, Creed and his band are also playing other songs Creed has written. He tends toward unconventional, punky songs with blunt titles. I wonder if he’s going to play the deliberately irritating “Fuck Off.” There is often an unassuming, humorous aspect to Creed’s work that uncannily parallels his ability to annoy people. I’m sure the performance will annoy some people, as well as generate the typical bemused query, “Is this really art?” In fact, I’d be surprised if anyone coming to this won’t laugh, be annoyed, supremely irritated, or totally grossed out. Which is also funny in an “either you get it or you don’t” way.

I don’t know exactly what Creed is going to do Thursday and Friday evening. I am intrigued, a bit worried, and quite excited about the performance. The one thing I know for sure is that I won’t be bored.