Without a doubt, anyone that suggests a transformation of the word hate to hats has my attention from the get go. Martin Creed, the Turner Prize-winning artist-performer-composer and ‘punk poet’ is an artist that likes to do a bit of word-play and consider the make-up and meaning of words. We see this not only in his art installations but also within his music and poetry, and presently even more so with the show that is Everything Is Going To Be Alright at Edinburgh’s Summerhall as part of the Festival 2021.
Born in Wakefield but moved to Glasgow at the age of 3, and presently in London, Creed has spanned the breadth of the UK but feels a kinship to Scotland. He won the 2001 Turner Prize for two exhibitions, Martin Creed Works and Art Now: Martin Creed shown across England during the preceding year. His submission for the Turner Prize show at the Tate Gallery was Work No. 227: The lights going on and off. The work was an empty room in which the lights switched on and off at 5-second intervals. As so often with the Turner Prize, this created a great deal of press attention, most of it questioning whether something as minimalist as this could be considered art at all. And this is something key to understanding the work of Creed when it comes to almost any of his shows, as astute observation and pensive thought are what add to his work, providing almost an existential perspective to the world around us.
Much of this show considers words that exist within words, In within Ing, Hell within Hello, Go within Goodbye and so on and so on, demonstrating the irrationality of words sometimes. As Creed himself says, words are things that feelings clutch onto but don’t necessarily adequately describe that feeling. Combined with the time that ‘lockfrown’ has offered him to focus on clothes, outrageous ties and absurd hats, he does much to suggest that if we put our hate into hats and lies into ties we would all have a much warmer existence.
Warm-hearted, heart-warming, talk-songs adding a touch of cabaret to the afternoon’s performance, Creed allows us to engage with feelings, love, loneliness, hate, and give us much to ponder but also find funny and enjoy. He is a social artist after all that pokes fun at himself oft throughout, whilst getting his viewer to think and do the work. And if they would prefer not to then the word play and absurdist elements of the hour will entertain enough to make this show worth your while. Do catch Creed’s Everything Is Going To Be Alright whilst you still can.
Everything Is Going To Be Alright runs until Thursday 26th August, 3-4pm at Summerhall, Edinburgh, tickets available here