5.03.2010

Martin Creed, Work No. 227, the lights going on and off (2000)



Martin Creed, Work No. 227, The Lights Going On And Off, 2000. Electrical timer (frequency five seconds on/five seconds off), Dimensions variable.

Martin Creed (b. 1968) is a British conceptual artist who won the Turner Prize in 2001 with his installation (shown above) Work No. 227, The Lights Going On And Off. Creed is a minimalist who works with the ideas between art and reality, and what constitutes art. He attended the prestigious Slade School of Art in London in the late '80's and was originally a painter. He began to work in conceptual and installation art in the early '90's and has had considerable success with many of his works. Known for his use of neon signs, Creed has exhibited on the facade of the Tate Britain with an installation called, His Work No. 143, 2000, that had written out in blue neon the equation "the whole world + the work = the whole world".

From his biography on the Tate Britain's website we get an interesting explanation of his methods: Two other neon works are typical of Creed's gentle subversions of everyday reality or ideas. One emblazons the cliché 'everything is going to be alright' across a building or gallery wall which presented thus quickly evokes the ways in which the opposite is the case. Similarly 'don't worry' which, while reminding us to worry, also flashes on and off in a manner that is worrying in itself.

The work discussed here today though is his controversial Turner Prize submission, Work No. 227, The Lights Going On And Off. Installed in a room of the Tate for the Turner Prize in 2001, this work of Creed's competed against Richard Billingham, Isaac Julien, and Mike Nelson. The decision to award the prize to Creed was unanimous. The work itself is very simple, and very beautiful in its simplicity. A room, enclosed on all sides, is lit up and blacked out by a light source. The light bulbs are turned on for 5 seconds and then turned off for 5 seconds.

Is this art? Many artists at the time of Creed's submission of the work to the Turner competition did not think so. One in particular, Jacqueline Crofton, threw eggs at the wall of the room after the prize was named the winner. Creed's win was one of the most televised ceremonies in the Turner's history and Creed received his check from Madonna.

Creed has since donated the work to Great Britain and it is displayed at the Tate Britain. It is also displayed at the MoMA in New York.

I have to ask what you guys think of this? Is this art? It is an idea, a philosophy but is it art?

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