Unusual Art Forms at Tate Britain

Visitors and art lovers visiting Tate Britain will discover a completely different vision of art in the form of Martin Creed's Work No. 850. Opening on July 1, 2008, the show brought in some of the more physical aspects of human life that are often overlooked. He showcases a variety of these aspects, especially events in the everyday life that parallel our existence as human beings as a whole. For instance, he discusses in an interview about the sprinters that would run through the gallery at timed intervals of every 30 seconds. He felt that the runners mirrored our own life cycle in that a person sees a runner and then they are gone. This parallels the life of a human being in that we see a person and then that individual is in essence gone when he or she dies. In this manner, he gives his own spin on the human condition.


His focus on the form, experience and the dependable rhythm of running and remind the viewer that what we see is often fleeting and only there for the moment. The experience of dealing with runners going past them at high speed can be unnerving for some, as this is essentially an artwork in motion. It has no permanent form and cannot be left on still display. It comes and goes, but at the same time allowing the viewer to view it in their own way. The art, in this case, is literally living, has jumped off of the wall and moves throughout the gallery. There is no hushed silence as people stare at a painting or walk around the sculpture. In this case, the sculpture runs right on by. Creed talks about how he conceptualized this show of art, discussing that he can work the idea out in his head for the piece, but can only "show the surface" of it to the viewer. This kind of statement is very true with the runners, who the viewer can take in for only a fleeting moment and derive only a surface impression.

The runners can be seen as distracting from the rest of the our work in the gallery and as an annoyance to those who have come to visit in quiet contemplation. They can also be taken as a visual break from the regular gallery experience, opening up a new way to see and view art. He does provide a break in between each runner going to the gallery. After the sprinter goes by, there is a few moments of quiet before the next one comes through. This leaves enough time for the viewer to consider the experience and form an impression of what just passed by. It may be a thought about the runner's style, or annoyance at an unwanted intrusion.

Regardless of how the show is seen, Martin Creed is opening up the art viewing experience in a unique way. Using a live human being as the piece of art and pulling the painting down off of the wall turns the gallery in a different direction.

Copyright Jon 2008