Lucy Wang on MOTHERS


Posted January 3, 2013


Martin Creed
Work No. 1357, MOTHERS, 2012
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
Installation view, Martin Creed Plays Chicago, MCA Chicago, 2012
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

As a teenager, I have ambivalent feelings about MOTHERS. On one hand, the work is reminiscent of my mother hovering over me, constantly watching and never missing a thing. On the other hand, I’m glad to have someone who’s always here to take care of me. Either way this work pays a well-deserved tribute to our mothers and the all-encompassing role they played in our lives as children. On second thought, what if Martin is questioning our undying devotion to our mothers? What if he’s asking us if we can over-praise (if that’s even a word) or over-value our moms? What if he’s making a statement on how we all focus on the mother and not the father? (Compare Mother’s Day festivities to Father’s Day ones.) Maybe I’m overthinking it now. Maybe he just wanted to make a nice spinning sculpture.

MCA Visitors on MOTHERS

Posted December 13, 2012


For this issue’s installment of visitor comments, we asked vendors and passersby at our Tuesday Farmers’ Market for their reactions to MOTHERS.

“What’s neat is it generates a lot of ideas and questions, which is what art is supposed to do.”

“I think of plants and food because I’m growing things, and everything comes from the mother.”

“Why does it say mothers? Why not fathers? Both parents are special.”

“I saw a couple of mothers pointing at it with their babies, which is cool. Good picture opportunity.”

“I did not think it would look like that. I saw it going up last week. But it’s cool.”

“Definitely not what I expected. It’s kind of random that it just says ‘mothers.’”

“It’s pretty awesome. It’s really orderly out here, but the rust of the sign takes you to another place.”

“I don’t know what to think. What does it do? It turns around. I don’t get paid to turn around.”

“How heavy is it? Is that support sufficient?”

“I do like it, but I have no idea what it might mean or imply. But aesthetically, I like it.”

“Can’t go wrong with a theme like mothers.”

“I think it’s kind of cool, especially when it’s moving, but what does
it mean?”

“Why only mothers? Why not women in general?”

“I like it because I’m pregnant. Baby is on the mind.”

“My first thought was, ‘Hey! I’m one!’”

“It’s a very strong statement.”

“I mean . . . it’s just plain cool.”

“The piece is very applicable to us. We’re on a mothers’ getaway weekend.”

“I appreciate the kinetic aspect of the piece.”

“Honor your mother!”

“Where’d they get the beams to make sure it’s structurally sound?”

“I didn’t understand it at first and I still don’t. You know, like, why does it rest on that pedestal? Things like that.”

“Mothers make the world go around.”