conceptual art, contemporary art, London 2012, sound art

Martin Creed, Work No. 1197 (2012)

July 27, 2012

It is not clear what Work No. 1197 set out to achieve. But few could misunderstand just what it was they had to do, or what happened.

At inestimable numbers of people came together to ring all manner of bells. They met in churches, galleries, schools and theatres. You could even try this at home.

At Fabrica gallery Brighton some thirty volunteers and staff formed a spontaneous circle, an effortless slipping into the role of bellringers.

The chiming began and before long an additional sound could be heard. That was, if not mistaken, an unofficial resonance, a music of the spheres, something not signed off at LOCOG.

Few artists come across as material minded as artist Martin Creed. But in that spooky extra vibration, there was something perhaps mystical despite the early hour.

It made me think of Abbie Hoffman’s efforts to levitate the Pentagon. The Yippie founder also wanted to turn the building orange and end the war in Vietnam.

By all reports, Whitehall is still on terra firma and retains the colour of stone. But hey, Jeremy Hunt’s bell broke, so perhaps it worked.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport joined proceedings on the deck of HMS Belfast, a suitable target for our peace-loving energies.

New age readings aside, this was still a remarkable event. The diversity of bells in use was itself an exhaustive expression of difference and conceptual sameness.

Top prize in my limited experience goes to the chap in Brighton with a cloche jar and an official Olympics bouncy ball on the end of a chop stick. Everyone is an artist, after all.

Following a very quick three minutes of something approximating joy, the ringing ceased and a round of applause swept the room.

It died down and the only sound left was a smartphone on the stage, pulsing with an official All The Bells ringtone. But since 815am, can anything else still be heard?

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