Chris Coombes Interview

Martin Creed interviewed by Chris Coombes for Tate Magazine Issue 27

> Are you making new work for the Turner Prize?

I'm not sure. I'm still working on what I might do and, although I've had some thoughts.. I've got... yeah... I'm almost sure of what I'm going to do, but I don't really... I don't really want to talk about it, because I'm still thinking about it... and so...

> Are you finding the idea of an art competition an issue to deal with, or does it not really bother you?

Yeah, I am finding it... eh, yeah... I think it definitely is a different kind of exhibition.... you know? Because it's not, it's na, it seems like neither a solo exhibition nor a group exhibition... and, eh... and in a way the only equivalent I can find, thinking about it, is that it's more like a... it's more like a degree show than anything else. In the sense that, you know, in the sense that each artist is given the same amount of space... and then in the sense that there's going to be judgement taking place, eh, aye... it seems like a unique kind of show also because over the years I've often watched the Turner Prize on TV and had a laugh at it and, you know, got excited about it, you know?

> So do you feel any kind of kinship with past or present people who've been shortlisted or do you feel quite isolated from this year's nominees?

Ah, I don't know. No, not really. I mean, yeah, it just seems like a... yeah, I don't know really. It's exciting to be a part of it, for sure... eh.. and... aye.

> Is there a concern that the growing stature of 'the artist Martin Creed’ is at odds with the often understated nature of your work - are you getting slightly worried that there is kind of a Martin Creed 'thing'?

Well, I like things... and I've always been slightly worried... and to me I've always been, if not Martin Creed the artist, then Martin Creed the... eh... the person trying to make things and trying to do things... so, you know, to me that's always been the case... because I have to live, you know, I have to live with myself.

> And I guess as it gets closer to October and November maybe the pace of that feeling will increase?

I don't know, it's more that... I don't know, it's not so much to do with exhibitions than.. than with a general... You see I think one of the problems for me is to, ehm, you know... I would like and I would hope and I would like to try to always start afresh every time I try to do something, but in a way that's difficult... To me there's a danger in, eh, trusting what you've done so, you know, let's say you do and make some things and maybe... let's say some people buy them and some people like them and, ehm you know, I think that there's a, eh... there's a natural, there's sort of a natural inclination to kind of believe that therefore those works or those ideas are... ehm, are good.. And then it's tempting to accept them and make something in relation to something you've already made, and so on and so on and, eh, I don't know, you know, I don't think that's good... I don't like that... I think maybe it's better to try to get back to the beginning... to try to start again... I mean I don't find it really very helpful in trying to make things to think about past things. That's why I don't like, that's why I think I've sometimes found it difficult to show a number of works together. Because most of the kinds of things I've done have tended to be a bit big singular or small but big or small but singular... eh, and eh... and ehm, eh the problem... the problem is for me to... you know? You see, I want the work to, ehm... I want the relationship to be between the work and the world... but as soon as you put two things together there begins to be a relationship between them, and then when there's three or four or more of them, then before you know it there's a big kind of... eh, narrative within the work, within the work... and I think that... I don't know...

> To do with numbering your work, is it the most neutral way you've found to identify the work?

Yeah... I started numbering the things I made... because I wasn't happy with some of the titles that I'd used, and I just wanted a way for them all...and, aye, I didn't want titled and I didn't want untitled... I wanted a way to try to treat them all the same whether they were a big thing or a small thing or a piece of music or whatever...and I like numbers... It's difficult to start, I mean it's often difficult to begin things... and in that respect numbers can be very useful. I mean one, to me, is a good start, and to continue, two's good too... but... aye, it was to try to treat things all the same and... eh, not worry about titles, not worry about words... I just, you know, the numbers, you know the numbers, I don't think they're a particularly important, eh, thing, because basically all... many... most things are numbered, you know, with catalogue numbers or serial numbers...

> The apparent absence of conflict in your work almost follows the medical profession's Hippocratic Oath 'First do no Wrong"

Hmm mm

> Are you conscious of a particular personal code when you are thinking about making work?

Umm... eh, well, not wanting to get it wrong is a big part of it. But then another big part of it is not knowing... not knowing, not knowing or... finding it difficult to know when it's right. And, eh, but there's a big...aye, I think there's a lot of fear involved because... you know I want to try to do things and, eh and I want to be able to live with them... and if I think I've got it wrong it's difficult to live with it... very difficult... But yeah, it's difficult to know when you've got it wrong... I think it's to do with feelings, you know? I mean if my heart sinks then I know I've got it wrong, or I think I know... I think it's about trying to come to a feeling of something being the right thing to do, or not... in a way... but I think it's difficult to say... it's difficult to say... or to try to put it another way...

I don't know what I want to say, but, to try to say something, I think I want to try to think. I want to try to see what I think. I think trying is a big part of it, I think thinking is a big part of it, and I think wanting is a big part of it, but saying it is difficult, and I find saying trying and nearly always wanting. I want what I want to say to go without saying.