15 Zany Things Martin Creed Said at His Public Art Fund Talk. We Love #12

"I think feelings are predominantly bad."

Martin Creed. Photo Maria Baranova, courtesy Public Art Fund

Martin Creed.
Photo: Maria Baranova, courtesy of Public Art Fund.

Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed gave a highly entertaining lecture-performance last night at the New School, courtesy of New York’s Public Art Fund. He sang while a dancer danced, he showed images of his works and talked about them, and he took a few questions. The artist bears a passing resemblance to cartoonist Robert Crumb, if he were wearing smartly tailored versions of his mother’s clothing. He fidgeted, he hemmed and hawed, he looked deeply uncomfortable. He briefly toyed with a sampler that played back what he’d just said. He rambled. He was like the art world’s version of Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects: seemingly stalling for time, maybe messing with you. I think we were all won over.

Here are some things he said, not in the order he said them, sometimes out of context:

1. “I don’t like shoes—I mean shows!—where you have to take your shoes off. I hate that.”

2. Singing a song whose lyrics seemingly identified the chords he was playing: “Be sharp. Be flat. Be natural.”

3. “I’m the only person I know, and I don’t know him very well.”

4. “Every time you go to a gallery, it’s full of air.”

5. Talking about his Turner Prize–winning work Work No. 227: The lights going on and off (2001), in which the lights in a gallery switch off and on: “I’ve always liked switching lights on and off.”

6. “Words don’t degrade, like cheese. That’s a bad example. Like roads.”

7. Reminding us of a Tears for Fears song: “I was thinking, I can’t control the whole world.”

8. “It’s a lot easier to answer questions than it is to do whatever the opposite of answering questions is.”

9. “I’m here because I was asked, and I said Yes. And it’s good to get out of the house.”

10. “I think feelings are predominantly bad.”

11. “Happiness might be more difficult to sustain than sadness.”

12. “I’m just scared of everything, really. You can’t make decisions.”

13. “Working is like trying to direct steam that comes out of you. The studio fills with steam, and then you feel like, I’ve gotta collect the bloody steam.”

14. “I don’t know what art is. I like what is commonly referred to as art.”

15. These are some of the lyrics to a song he sang to end the evening: “I’m the one for you. I’m your two. You’re the one for me. You’re my three.”


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