Fear of the blank page

Martin Creed, Work No 88, 1995

Martin Creed, Work No. 88, A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball, 1995

There’s something about a blank page. There’s a sense of possibility, of course: this could be where it all goes right – this page could soon be home to the perfect drawing or piece of text – but there’s also a sense of anxiety, after all what can go very right can also go very wrong. We’ve probably all been there, stuck in the cycle that sees each new page end up in the bin. You write. You read. You screw up the page and start again. If the blank page carries a sense of possibility I guess the scrunched up ball of paper carries the sense of exasperation.

In the case of Martin Creed’s Work No. 88, A sheet of A4 paper crumpled into a ball the connotation of disappointment at things not going according to plan is there to an extent but the tight roundness of the resulting ball is too close to perfect to be the result of anything other than a more careful, considered crumpling up of the page.

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Lift music

Lift arriving at Level 2

The lift in the Royal Festival Hall is my favourite lift by a country mile and though in all respects it’s a perfectly nice, if a little ordinary, lift, it’s not about the lift’s appearance or the views of the Southbank afforded by a journey in it, good though those are. No, this lift contains art.

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Airy stories

Martin Creed, Work No. 200 Half the air in any given space, 1998

While I’m thinking about spaces of confusion and installations that can disorientate the viewer it seems like aa good opportunity to have think about Martin Creed’s Work No. 200 and Work No. 247 both also titled Half the air in any given space. In these works, half the air in the space is separated from the rest by being contained within balloons. This is another work I’ve somehow managed to miss and it’s right there on my list of things I really want to see.

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Everything and nothing at all

the whole world + the work = the whole worldMartin Creed, Work No. 232: the whole world + the work = the whole world, 2000

There are two ways to see this. Clearly if A + B = A then B = 0, so in Martin Creed’s equation the work can definitely be read as nothing at all. But is art really a big fat zero? And if it is, is the outside of a major art museum the place to say it? Well, let’s try again…

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Moving pictures

Juan Fontanive, Quicknesse, 2009

When we think of moving image art it’s usually film and video works that spring to mind first, but artists like to play and there’s more than one way to make an image move. One of the works I’ve enjoyed the most in recent years is Juan Fontanive’s Quicknesse, a simple flipbook device which traps a hummingbird in a loop of hovering. The sound of the work conjures a sense of agitation and urgency; the bird is beautiful, trapped in our gaze.

There is something extraordinary about this work. Whether it’s the simplicity of the device or the touching beauty of the image, in which the bird is isolated from its surroundings (the background of the image is painted out in white so that the bird floats), I’m not sure, but it has stayed with me since the first time I saw it. Effectively  this is stop motion animation as sculpture. Juan Fontanive has another London show opening at Riflemaker Gallery next month. Can’t wait.

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