Martin Creed – 'If you're doing something and you're with other people in a room, it's like going out on a date and deciding what you're going to say beforehand'
- David Pollock
- 24 July 2017
Anything could happen at the artist/musician's Edinburgh International Festival residency
'Unless it's completely improvised, a live performance is like saying that you're predicting what's going to happen in the future,' says the Glasgow-raised Turner Prize-winning artist and prolific musician Martin Creed. 'I find that really artificial and against life. Basically, if you're doing something and you're with other people in a room, it's like going out on a date and deciding what you're going to say beforehand. It seems really stupid.' All of which is shorthand for the fact he doesn't know what will happen in his new Edinburgh International Festival residency, beyond what's been revealed in the title; it's called Words and Music, so he can safely say that words and music will be involved.
If this all sounds somewhat vague, the audience will have to make a leap of faith towards what EIF trails as 'an extraordinary encounter … a bit contemporary music hall, a bit art lecture' based on Creed's track record. It's fair to say his art is iconic, with 'Work No. 227: The lights going on and off' making for a controversial Turner win in 2001 (the title described the work exactly), 'Work No. 975: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT' and 'Work No 1059: The Scotsman Steps' now genuine Edinburgh landmarks, and 'Work No. 1020: Ballet' having been performed at Sadler's Wells, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre.
Meanwhile, he's made music for two decades, releasing humorous and thoughtful indie-punk on Moshi Moshi (his debut double A-side for them inventively paired the tracks 'Fuck Off' and 'Die') and his own Telephone label, and working with Franz Ferdinand. It's upon these songs that he will fall back, he says, if the talking hits an impasse; asked to come up with something by EIF, this show will be based partly upon his usual gig format, and partly upon one of his talks about his work. 'That always felt weird to me,' says Creed, 'because talking about your work is different from work, obviously. Using words is a whole other thing in itself.'