When I saw Creed’s work at the Turner Prize the year it won I was delighted. That huge and empty room where the lights simply turned on and off were a sublime joke. Apart from that piece and a blob of blu-tack on the wall, which was also quite controversial, I didn’t know Creed’s work. Despite the fact that it is quite discussed. So last weekend I went to see his exhibition at the Hayward, to plug gaps.
I should have left them. Sometimes the void of ignorance is better filled by the imagination than by knowledge. It often happens to me (especially at the Hayward, perhaps it is the place) that I have a well-defined first impression when I enter the exhibition but that, the more I see the more that impression turns to the opposite. When I entered Creed I thought: Great! A dose of irreverence, how refreshing! But as I left I agreed with the title of the exhibition ‘What’s the point of it?’ I could even imagine the artist and the organisers in a meeting, happily coming up with a title that would advance possible criticism. What a patch.
Amongst other things, the exhibition had a room full of white balloons where one could walk, a car whose doors suddenly all opened, various protuberances and a video with people vomiting, urinating and defecating (but with a white background and one at a time). Perhaps if they had all been together in some form of scatological siblinghood it would have been socially more cathartic. Apart from the protuberances and some unimportant objects, which can have a certain poetic something, the rest was impregnated with a sort of reluctance. Like telling a joke that not even you find funny. What for. Creed’s exhibition felt more like a ‘not knowing how to be with oneself’ than a coherent trajectory. As the Arabic proverb says it: talk only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence.
What a shame. And I really like silliness and cosmic nonsense. I am not bothered by the everyday entering a gallery and turning into art in a Duchamp style. But it needs to turn into art Duchamp style, not stay everyday Ikea style. Things shouldn’t be done without conviction.
Illustration: “Sometimes there is art that I don’t understand” from the Feminist Gooseneck Barnacles series.