I thought it would be fitting to start this year with Martin Creed's Work No. 329: Half The Air In A Given Space, seeing most of you would have been surrounded by balloons only a few nights ago. My dream New Years Eve party is to have balloons fall from the ceiling at midnight with glitter and streamers! That didn't happen this year, instead, I was at a party where the balloons were filled with helium and kissed the ceiling. I can never understand why this would appeal. Why would you want a room filled with balloons that are out of reach?!?!?! It isn't fun!
Martin Creed has created the ultimate 'balloons in a room' experience having done various versions of this work since 1998. He strategically calculates the volume of the space and then blows up balloons to occupy half the volume of the space. His choice of colour has been an issue for him claiming "The first one was white because I couldn't decide on a color – and white is a non-color that allows the people who are in the balloons to be the color. The second one was multicolored because I couldn't decide on a color, and so I had all of them; and when it comes to choosing a color, black is similar to white in that it is not a color – or at least not overtly." (L. Buck, "UK artist Q&A Martin Creed," The Art Newspaper, No. 86, November 1998).
He actually sounds like a kid saying all that about colour, not being able to decide if he wants red ones or blue ones. In 2006, at Auckland's Ivan Anthony Gallery, Creed decided on pink balloons. I couldn't find any information on why he finally chose pink but thank goodness he did. Isn't this heaven?!?!?! Well, it is mine thats for sure! This work gives us permission to reenact the playfulness of childhood. One cannot help but wear a huge smile in such a space, playing within the sea of the balloons. His work does that. It is about experiences and he creates spaces where the viewer can enjoy what is within the space, or not within it. This work makes us aware of air, how it fills a room without us noticing or even being aware of what our relationship may be to it.
"By enabling viewers to move freely among the swarm of balloons, Creed creates a purely physical, playful environment in which people are invited to consider their relationship to the air in the room and how they navigate through it." (1) This was a boring quote I came across about the work. Yes it is all that but foremost, I do think Creed simply wanted to experience a room that was filled with balloons, just as the audience would pile up to experience it too!
We are given permission to play as we once did as children, whether we physically experience this work or simply imagine we are in it. He reminds us of the existence of the child within and invites that child to come out and play. We are dwarfed as adults by the sheer numbers of balloons, feeling as we did as a child about the world around us. It would have been amazing, an experience that would not be easily forgotten. I do hope one day I experience a room full of pink balloons. I don't think I would be able to leave the room until all the balloons become deflated into pink pools of latex.
Below is a video of people experiencing the installation. Looks like soooo much fun!