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

Today’s post is the third in my fortnight of postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
I remember the day I got this postcard quite well: it was my 39th birthday and I’d gone to see What’s the point of it?, the Martin Creed exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. I have a feeling that this card was a proxy for the thing that I really wanted to remember, which was the giant neon sign that said MOTHERS scything through the air just above (most people’s) head height – you can see it at that last link. I’d thought that was funny and apt for a day of the year when I really ought to remember and be grateful for my mother.

But it’s possible that I was sold on this modern art koan because it seemed like it might be profound in that moment I was hovering by the postcard racks. I drew this card out of the box today with a bit of a harrumph at my luck at picking this one: oh god, a neon sculpture with a gnomic quote, great. But I’ve cheered up about it since because what I’m choosing to think this is about today is the moment of creation. ‘The work’ is a bit of not-quite jargon, I think, maybe what artists say instead of saying ‘piece of kit’ if they were an engineering type. It makes me think of big exhibitions starting with boring juvenilia. I think here, though, it stands for ‘the thing I’ve just made’. The addition of something you’ve made to a world full of things is a fine moment, when in however small a way you are taking part in making the world.  I’m sitting here typing this, wearing a jumper I knitted. The jumper’s okay, nice raglan sleeves and so on, but it isn’t ever going to be hung in Tate Britain. But it is part of my world now, when last month it wasn’t, and I was the one who did the addition. It’s all right, that, isn’t it?

Today’s research tells me that this was installed at Tate Britain to mark the change of brand back in 2000. I don’t remember it at all – but then perhaps all our attention was on the reason the brand changed: the opening of Tate Modern.

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