“When I try to do a painting, I try to narrow the world down to one thing. When you do that you’re saying no to the rest of the world. It seems, to me, like a very artificial thing and it goes against life. Life is mixed up and all over the place,” Martin Creed said after careful consideration and minutes of very out loud thinking during the press preview of his new show at the Park Avenue Armory on Tuesday (June 7, 2016).
The statement is not just about the current exhibition, it’s also a great testament to the 2001 Turner Prize winner’s work, which is executed in every imaginable medium – paint, bronze, light, sound, rubber, steel, film, photography, installation and many more. Creed’s not trying to limit himself and he gained recognition over the past two and a half decades for pursuing an extraordinary path by confounding the traditional categories of art.
His humorous approach to serious topics like border control (also the name of a cringe-inducing piece showing refugees trying to enter European countries set to a folk-like tune with vocals singing ‘border control’) has New York obsessed; his work is concurrently on display at Madison Square Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Just the title of his Armory show, The Back Door, will have most people giggling as it reminds them of a more intimate body part. And it’s totally intentional: as visitors enter the Drill Hall, they are greeted by a big screen with the piece Mouth playing on it. It shows different cuts of people—one of which is Creed’s mother and another supermodel Lily Cole—opening their mouthes in slow motion to reveal a gooey mass (yogurt). Between each cut, the back door of the Armory opens out to the street for a few seconds.
Other pieces are less discreet. A girl pooping on the floor, a series of people vomiting, a video consisting of nothing but a black screen and a soundtrack titled fuck off (no literally, the only words expressed are FUCK OFF), and a man beating bouquets of flowers on the floor. And these are only the video pieces exhibited in a corridor parallel to the Drill Hall.
Since most events/exhibitions at the Armory have only been in the Drill hall, it’s great to see them take the entirety of the historic building into use: all rooms have somehow been transformed by Creed. His Work No. 596, Slamming Piano is exhibited in one of the wooden rooms, his Work No. 200, Half the air in a given space is also on display in one of the many grand rooms that are rarely used. All New Yorkers (permanent or temporary) most go explore Creed’s incredible oeuvre and the many “unseen” rooms of the Armory.