creed v orozco


Paradoxically, what makes Creed’s work as a whole more engaging than Orozco’s is that Creed doesn’t much care if anyone pays attention. While there’s probably a backstory to any of the works on view at Hauser & Wirth—mostly small paintings, but also photographs, wall paintings, a black-and-white film and a large sculpture—a little time spent with them takes the edge off the desire to know whatever their anecdotal background might be. The works don’t open up until you’re willing to accept that what you see is all there is to them. Three large photographs (Work No. 1094, Work No. 1095 and Work No. 1096, all from 2011) show a comically mismatched pair of dogs, one tiny and one huge, a Chihuahua and an Irish wolfhound, romping in a completely white studio. They’re charming to look at, but so what? Well, that “So what?” is the crucial point in any work of Creed’s, the point where you can either shrug your shoulders and walk on or entertain the thought that the insignificant phenomenon before you is worth mulling over—in which case the comical equivalence the photographs propose between the large and small might be all to the point. “His small is enormous,” as one contributor, John O’Reilly, writes in the massive, recently published compendium Martin Creed: Works (Thames & Hudson; $65); in Creed’s Work No. 567 (2006), the phrase small things was lit up in ten-foot-tall neon letters. Paging through the more than 700 works illustrated in the book, dating from 1986 through 2009, one becomes aware that Creed’s numbering system is a way of asserting the equivalence of seemingly unrelated and differently valued kinds of things: a ballpoint pen scribble, some written words, a torn-up or crumpled sheet of paper—the Chihuahuas of art—are simply Works, no more and no less than a theatrical performance or a room-filling installation of balloons—the Irish wolfhounds.

more from Barry Schwabsky at The Nation here.