Martin Creed – A bowdlerisation of all objects and 1001 activities? Stefan Szczelkun


Martin Creed represents a new relaxed freedom and inclusion in art. We can now all include our childhood drawings in our art shows (but only in certain controlled environments.)
The naive is separated from its messy base and put on pedestals. Everyday materials and artless productions are ‘good’… they are ‘OK’ we can feel alright about them now. But look carefully and many everyday challenges are excised. Even his golden clenched fist is a childhood piece presented in a closed vitrine.
Base functions from making raspberries to sick & shit, and having an erection, do have their feeling qualities. The middle classes can now get used to their aesthetic dimensions. Creed’s exhibition will train them to be children again. A mother at the door of the Sick&Shit projections complained to me how her three year old son loves it so. She wants to leave but he won’t let her.
Pretence: there is not any longer a need for class separation in aesthetics. Anything we do has some aesthetic quality, lets all finally admit it.
BUT Creed’s ordinary does not include any ordinary things that might lead to liberation or revolt. There is no grief or crying. No post traumatic stress disorders. No displaced peoples. No homelessness. etc. List all the things that are missing rather than the plethora that’s included. And the missing things all share one characteristic – they all challenge capitalism in its current bullish and blissfully omnipotent mood.
It is about making the mundane aesthetically normalised for the middle classes. A bowdlerisation of all objects and activity. A disarming exhibition because I relate too closely to much of it. I did that stuff too. I made that poor joke but without the panache and confidence that Creed brings to it.
Creed is like a court jester, he plays in the margins of what is possible and possibly naughty. He’s naughty and knowing but does so in the pockets of the super rich. They can invest heavily in his silly and obvious ideas but that doesn’t mean you and I can now go to the Arts Council for tens of thousands to build a room full of balloons or a high prestige show of all your old paintings because that has all be ticked off. Sorry mate, you’re too late. Its been done.
I know there is one thing he missed – spitting. Maybe I can do a very well supported spitting piece straight away. If you don’t have too many aspirations you can still quietly hawk phlegm into the gutter. Middle class people would prefer to choke than be caught spitting. Spitting can be my ticket to fame and good fortune. Arts Council are you listening? This is my application for dosh. This is how we do it nowadays, informally on the social media.

The Trapeze Artist

The Trapeze Artist is a new play by Paul Bilic opening at Tara arts Theatre Studio on April 22 and running on April 22, 24, 28, 30, May 2, 4, 6, 8 at 7.30. It tells the story of how Kafka’s manuscripts ended up in Oxford, which is where they are housed to this day. At Kafka’s death in 1924 his close friend Max Brod was supposed to burn all his remaining manuscripts, but Brod disobeyed Kafka’s request and published them. Brod took the manucripts with him when he fled Prague on the final train before the Nazis moved in. He kept them in Palestine until 1956 when Marianna Steiner, Kafka’s niece, returned them to Europe where she had them housed in a bank vault in Zurich. A chance encounter between Michael Steiner, Marianna’s son and a student at Oxford, and Malcolm Pasley, an Oxford German don, in 1961 meant that Pasley contacted Marianna Steiner and was given permission to drive the manuscripts across the alps and house them at the Bodleian library Oxford.

‘The Trapeze artist’ , directed by Hannah Pantin, takes this story and splices it in with ‘ First Suffering’ one of Kafka’s shorter fictions, to produce an original and physical piece of theatre. On April 28 Michael Steiner, Kafka’s nephew now in his late 60s, will be attending the performance. For more information visit

The Journal of the Northern Renaissance ( is a new peer-reviewed, open-access online journal dedicated to the study of early modern Northern European cultural production. The journal will be alert to the full variety of early modern cultural practice, publishing articles on literature, the visual arts, philosophy, theology, political theory and the scientific technologies of the Northern Renaissance. It places a special emphasis upon interrogating the Southern European derivation of our inherited paradigms and delineating the significance of alternative cultural geographies. Although it is anticipated that attention will converge upon the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the journal is particularly open to attempts both to challenge existing periodizations of the Renaissance in the North and to establish continuities with earlier and later epochs. Continue reading

The Song of the H.F. and of the U.M. in three parts. Elsa Morante

Explanatory Introduction

?What does H.F. stand for?     It’s an abbreviation
for Happy Few.
?And who are the Happy Few?      Explaining it’s not easy,
for the Happy Few can’t be described.
Whilst few in number
they come from every race sex & nation
epoch age society status
and religion.
From the rich & from the poor
(but, if born poor, they usually stay that way,
and, if  born rich, soon end up poor)
from the young & the old (yet
it’s seldom they get here in time to get old)
from the beautiful and from the ugly (although it’s true that,
even when they’re vulgarly regarded as ugly,
in REALITY they’re beautiful; but REALITY
is rarely visible….
Well then.  Impartially, to be fair,
we’ll certify here, in good faith,
that the H. F., all of them, are always
even if, for the most part, people can’t see it).
Anyway, it’ll do for the present
explanatory preamble to note
that amongst their many & various forms there are
the exalted and the notorious, the anonymous and the hidden
(although, in the case of the famous, Celebrity doesn’t
generally show any great hurry to embrace them while they’re alive,
taking greater pleasure in seizing them in its posthumous grip,
once they’re already
deceased). Continue reading