I can't stop thinking about you

 As monks and smokers know very well, the repetition of gestures is serotoninergic, it generates a sense of well being... - Massimiliano Gioni (1)

Work No. 1092, MOTHERS, 2011

Martin Creed's current exhibition at Hauser and Wirth is rich in gesture. While the large sculptural piece MOTHERS deals in majesty and monument, creating a blithe sense of the heroic with its wild motion and Vegas neon, the collection of smaller works plays with a tension between a democratic simplicity, (which threatens to render the works authorless) and an implicit trace of presence. 

To begin with, the installation of over 40 small paintings interspersed with the 'dog' photographs and several wall pieces, gives off a beguiling sense of the collective. There is iconography of the tribal, elemental and monolithic (potential work up drawings for the Mothers piece?) the jewel-like traces of a civilisation working in the most lucid of visual vocabularies. The works move through geometries, systems of order, what it means to fill a page and what is meant in turn by blank spaces. They consider what is worth documenting and displaying. Creed's gestures of ordering and experiment are fervent and joyful, they ransack the pallette and spill over on to the walls. 

Work No. 1139, 2011

Work No. 1159, 2011

Work No. 1104, 2011

The Italian theorist Giorgio Agamben writes about "a generalised catastrophe in the sphere of gestures"(2) a  moment in the early 20th century when the entire human race seemed gripped by a Tourettes-like condition  of physical disarray. For Agamben, this crisis is both reified and buried by the development of cinema and the reflection of humanity in the moving image. The eternal disconnect of recognition associated with seeing oneself on screen (Barthes speaks of this too in relation to photography). Outside of his visual work, Creed seems to challenge this problem of corporeal disaster head on, perhaps most prosaically with his band, where, as Massimiliano Gioni comments, deranged repetition, the universal Tourettes, is gleeful, absurd, freeing, regenerative...

But there are parallels too with Agamben's further definition of gesture as something 'supporting' human consciousness, as opposed to having any tangible active, performative or aesthetic purpose of its own. This is called to mind in the one video work in the exhibition where, over the space of four minutes, we watch as the camera focuses exclusively on a body in the flux of inherent gesture. 

The areole contracts and relaxes. 
Operative, responsive, native. 
Supportive of thought and in harmony with the experience of an environment.  

Work No. 1177

Creed's work is often spoken of in terms of nothingness. The achievement of a pure, clear absence by the simplicity of process, genericism, slightness and restraint. He himself talks about the triumph of feelings over ideas. Of making noises - implicit noises that we can't help. Breath, stammers, expletive repeats.... fascination with A followed by B followed by C.  And the same goes for movement - contractions, fluxes, jerks and marks made on canvas proliferate in an meant effort of letting go, that manifests as holding fast. 

Like a fist closing and opening. 

(1) From Gioni's piece "The System of Objects" in Martin Creed - Works
(2) Giorgio Agamben Notes on Gesture (1992)  

All works © Martin Creed.


Popular Posts