PRINT September 2016


Martin Creed’s “The Back Door”

Martin Creed, Work No. 2656: Understanding, 2016, HD video, color, sound, 3 minutes 11 seconds.

SINCE THE BEGINNING of his career, Martin Creed has numbered rather than named his pieces, starting, cryptically enough, out of order, with Work No. 3, 1986, instead of No. 1. This numbering scheme recalls but also plays with the convention of classical composers’ chronological “opus” system, hinting at Creed’s roots in music. In fact, Creed learned to play guitar and violin in his youth and later formed Owada, a rock trio that put out just one album, Nothing, in 1997 (several of its songs were titled with numbers, with lyrics involving counting). After turning primarily to visual art for the following decade and a half, he resumed his musical activity in earnest, making up for lost time by releasing fifty-eight songs across three albums in the past four years. In line with his deliberately (some would say maddeningly) simple visual work, the songs are characteristically brief,

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