Martin Creed took the stage last week at the Kitchen last night for the first of three consecutive, part of his ongoing series of exhibitions in New York City that show the former Turner Prize winner at the top of his game, continuing his series of reductive, simplistic works with Work #1020, a performance piece that combine repeated gesture and dance, crass video and his own brand of buoyant, bizarre rock and roll.
Creed has long been interested in the potentials for deconstructed action. Many of his most famous works, including Work #227 (The lights going on and off) and Work #850 (A person sprints through the exhibiting museum) take their strength from a simple twist on the gestural and social constraints and formats of the art institution, and this performance was no different. Setting his dancers and band up in a set of converging lines, Creed continually moved his dancers across the stage using simple patterns and structures, rarely breaking from the basic positions of classical ballet, except for the occasional imaginative movements across the stage. At one point, the 5 dancers slowly moved across the stage, each one falling into position based on the length of their stride, before reaching an equilibrium back at their starting point.
Accompanying this movement was Creed’s band, a five piece troupe (Creed included) that ran their way through a series of songs investigating the wrinkles of the English language, and delving into a sardonic view of human relations (“tell your darkest problems to your friends,” he urges in one song). Beautifully arranged, the coy lyrics and pounding rock compositions made for a fitting counterpoint to the gentle movements of the dancers, who occasionally sprinted back and forth through the gaps between band members or snaked across the stage in carefully constructed, angular formations.
The show was occasionally broken up by video pieces, including several of sexual organs (during one interlude, Creed soundtracked a projected video of a human phallus, running up the neck of his guitar and back down as the organ swelled and fell), and particularly popular one in which Creed continually releases and chases two dogs across the frame of the camera in different directions, a wry play on perception and the flat image.
Following in the path of much of Creed’s work, #1020 succeeds in his signature light style, encouraging the audience to laugh along with his strange gaffes and even stranger compositions, but a delicate power lies under the surface. As the dancers filed across the front of the stage, it was hard to tell if his lead had been crying, a minute detail that made the spritely performance all the more poignant.
Work #1020 ran from December 12th – 14th.