I listened to a podcast called “Conversations With Modern Artists” featuring Martin Creed. On it, Creed speaks in a thick Scottish brogue sounding almost apologetic in his attempts to explain answers to questions that are asked.
“I don’t know, you know, I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I want. But, I do know that I want something. So, I think, that… I mean, I don’t know what I do, because… I can’t know that. But, I think that I just look for what I might find or want. Along the way hopefully… along the way of looking for something, I hope that something gets found. I think that the works are. The work is just something that happens along the way of looking for something. It’s just the way I… well, it’s just the way I say that I look at it.”
I like the notion of an artist expressing his art rather than serving his art. The expression of it should be pleasurable and being such, will likely mean that he will be drawn to it again and again and this revisiting could be termed “practice.” The art is the artifact that we then come along and ponder over. It is the evidence left at the scene of a life. But, it really isn’t much if it’s removed from the context of the artist’s life. Art, both creating it and enjoying it, is the intersection of lives.
That’s not to say that the art has no value without the life, but really, where else could the art have come from other than a life. It was a life decision. Even if the artifact that we are looking at was the only “artwork” of someone’s life, or, perhaps especially if it was, because this might (but only might) make it more special than a single work from a large body of “work.”
As the interview with Creed goes on, the artist and the interviewer struggle with the decision of whether or not to stand or sit during the discussion. But, it seems so strange that two people suddenly have to deliberate over how to position themselves simply because they are before an audience. In this case, in Creed’s life, it is the presence of an audience that causes him to consciously question whether he would rather sit or stand. He doesn’t know.
One of Creed’s writings say that “The world plus one’s art still equals the world.” This is not to say that art is nothing. Throughout the interview Creed struggles to answer why he has been tagged as “self-effacing” though he doesn’t think of himself as exhibiting that quality this hyperlink.
It seems, finally, as though he is a man who does what he likes to do, the way that makes the most sense to him. It is the by-product that others call art. The items are the results of a search for meaning in a life.