Turner Prize: A Retrospective 1984 – 2006: 01

Martin Creed Work No. 227: The lights going on and off 2000
View of Turner Prize: A Retrospective exhibition

Criticism from the press resurfaced in 2001 when the shortlist was labelled ‘obscure’. There was a call for less elitism in the selection process, the ‘artworld’ language used to contextualise the exhibition was attacked and a further plea was made for less ‘conceptual art’. When Martin Creed was awarded the prize for his pared-down installation, this fuelled the agitation of some critics, while many celebrated his uncompromising rigour.

Artists and works on display:

Martin Creed
Work No. 227 Lights going on and off 2000
5 seconds on / 5 seconds off
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Zürich London

Creed’s pared-down approach to making art is summed up by the self-explanatory title of this work. Nothing is added or removed from the gallery space. It is only the viewer’s perception of the architecture and of other visitors that is altered as the space is filled with light and then thrown into darkness at five second intervals.

By exhibiting this work in the 2001 Turner Prize, Creed challenged traditional ideas of display, in particular the expectations of the viewer within a museum context. The work invites the visitor to re-evaluate rules and conventions, focusing attention on the very fabric of the gallery.