Martin Creed, Work No. 200: Half the air in a given space, 1998

Martin Creed: What’s the Point of It? at the Hayward Gallery

Fun, playful, provocative – there’s certainly never a dull moment in the first major survey of Martin Creed’s life’s work that has opened at the Hayward Gallery. What’s The Point of It? is a truly immersive show from the get go, when you enter the gallery and have to first walk around the sofa that has been placed across the entrance (Work No. 142: A Large Piece of Furniture Partially Obstructing a Door) before swerving around the huge Work No. 1092: Mothers which consists of the vast neon word swivelling ever faster on a giant steel beam around the gallery, threatening to demolish anyone that gets in its way. Creed excels at disconcerting his viewers, and there are endless tricks around the gallery space to make you feel self-conscious including Work No 227: The Lights Going On and Off, which won Creed the Turner Prize in 2001 or, in a different way entirely, his films featuring bodily functions. At the press preview, one visitor was taking a picture of two workmen crouched down on a corner of the gallery floor peering into a black abyss. They could have quite easily been part of the show (although they weren’t) – there are no boundaries to what Creed considers ‘art’ to be, and his work spills into every corner of the Hayward which has been opened up to provide fantastic huge spaces; multi-coloured stripes that look like children’s party drinking straws cover an entire wall with paintings displayed on top, chaotic coloured strips are painted on an epic scale down the stairwell while one huge wall displays a meticulously neat collection of around 900 broccoli prints that look something like the vegetable prints any small child would routinely create.  Not all contemporary art works well for kids but Creed’s experiential pieces really do – as you would expect from the man who orchestrated all of the bells ringing in unison for three minutes across London to signal the start of the Olympic Games in 2012. The mundane and everyday suddenly have a life of their own – doors opening and closing on their own, a long black curtain that swooshes back and forth to reveal a long vista over the South Bank. Best of all though and bound to be a really popular part of this show is Work no 200: Half the Air in a Given Spacea corner room filled with big white balloons that visitors can enter and move around in. It’s a bit like being hurled into a giant meringue as you move slowly through the room occasionally bumping embarrassingly into a total stranger. Uncomfortable, but fun nonetheless. 






Martin Creed: What’s the Point of It?
Until April 27 2014; Mon, midday-6pm; Tues & Wed, 10am-6pm; Thurs & Fri 10am-8am.
Hayward Gallery, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
020 7960 4200
— Clare
29th January 2014