With an enthralling Glaswegian twang, Martin Creed invites us for a 70-minute tour into his work of make-believe, projected erect penises, budding nipples and a small dog and a big one, humour, repetition (with difference, nod-nod-wink-wink, Deleuze and Guattari), music, absurdity, and most of all: joie de vivre. Work No.1020 Ballet is, first and foremost, a feel good experience, and one with which Creed ventures into as of yet unexplored territory: choreography.
An acclaimed and award-winning artist, Creed generally encapsulates movement and repetition into his works by means other than dance; for instance, he won the Turner Prize in 2001 with the lights going on and off every five seconds in an empty exhibition space (The Lights Going On and Off, Work No. 227). Another striking example of meticulous repetition coupled with speed arrived in 2008, when Creed sent athletes dashing along an 86-meter stretch across Tate Britain's neo-classical sculpture galleries, every 30 seconds, all day long, for four months (Work No. 850). Visitors were strongly advised to look both ways before crossing the hall.
Now he turns his attention to the five core positions of classical ballet, connecting them to a set of tones. With his band consisting of Anouchka Grose, Keiko Owada, Benjamin Kane and Fiona Hymns, he connects these balletic movements with rhythm, with a funky beat and hilarious lyrics, such as: “What’s the point of it” and remarks like: “I didn’t know much about ballet – I only knew that it’s like the army.” Time, speed and duration are examined, not in a stylised and artificial way, but with such humour, grotesqueness and frivolity that Creed could virtually convince anyone of anything. One could say that he could sell sausages to the Germans, frogs to the French, and pizza to the Italians.
Speaking of Italians: Martin Creed may be a multi-talent, yet there’s one thing he’s quite bad at: Italian. I wonder how his Italian friends and colleagues in Alicudi, Italy, deal with that. Most likely with a smirk and a nudge-nudge, wink-wink.