23 December 2006

Art that is sick

You couldn't make it up. Well, you could, to parody Britart. And then life (art) would go and imitate parody.

Martin Creed, who won the Turner Prize in 2001 for The lights going on and off, has made a film about people vomiting. The lovely Sarah Kent wrote about it recently in Time Out.

One after another, people walk on to the oh-so-pure, white set and throw up. The first girl doesn’t produce much; she sticks her fingers down her throat several times, but comes up with only a few drops of bile before giving up and leaving the frame. The next person does better and the third spews up a reasonable amount. Martin Creed has edited the ‘Sick Film’ so that things build from scant beginnings to a crescendo – a veritable waterfall in terms of quantity, spread and colour.

Sarah: "What prompted you to film people vomiting?"

Martin: "I’ve been doing a lot of talks lately and the idea came from trying to talk about working – turning feelings, thoughts, desires, hopes and ideas into something to show other people. Vomiting is a good example of trying to get something from the inside out; its painful and making work can be painful too; its also uncontrollable. I want to make work that is more like a vomit than a rumination.

I always try to control things, but a lot of good things are found in the uncontrollable moments of life. Thinking gets in the way so often; it checks you and stops you expressing yourself freely. Vomiting is a very simple form of expression; it's a reflex that bypasses the thinking process and, since I made the film, I’ve been thinking a lot about acting. I find myself repeating myself, because its so difficult to make things fresh each time. The ‘Sick Film’ is an attempt to make a fresh thing never made before – a work without prejudice and without hope."
Of course. How could anyone have failed to appreciate the deeper purpose at work here.

Personally, I think Creed's art is mostly mediocre. (Though I have to confess to a sneaking appreciation of his Half the air in a given space, pictured.) Its ideological message is the same as that of other 'top' contemporary art: reductionism, degradation, postmodern sneering. For more on this, see previous post.