Martin Creed - Down Over Up

Playful exercise in keeping order from the Turner Prize winning artist

It’s tough at the top, as class-conscious ex-Animal Alan Price once sang. Price also added that it’s rougher at the bottom, and positively boring in-between. Equally pertinent to the irresistible rise of Martin Creed is Robin the Frog’s maxim by way of AA Milne that halfway up the stairs is neither up nor down. Creed is no Muppet, however, in this series of well-ordered games with scale(s), even if some of the works resemble the wet dreams of an autistic shelf stacker-turned-furniture removal man with a Russian doll fetish and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder.

A series of tables, chairs and boxes are built up into neat little towers, with the smallest of each at the top. Planks of wood are stacked in an orderly pile. Different sized nails are banged into a wall and set against each other like maids in a row. The rising and descending steps of a series of coloured felt tip-festooned paper hangings move through the spectrum and at times resemble the pecking order of Olympic podiums. A film shows a tiny Chihuahua at play with what looks like a (hungry) wolf.

All of which suggests that size really does matter as much as the mathematical precision of each artifact’s conception and construction. This reflects the works’ hard-to-pin-down namelessness, with only Creed’s chronologically catalogued numbers to hang onto. It also points to Creed as a man who understands the structural simplicities of a verse-chorus-verse-chorus pop tune and the power that comes with it. Everything’s in its place in these variations on a theme, and there’s a place for everything.

If the much vaunted musical staircase is a bit Fisher Price, then the singing lift is as swooshingly precise as a Philip Glass chorale. Overall, Down Over Up is a playful exercise in keeping order that doesn’t so much rip up the rulebook as rearrange the index in his own archivist’s image. Stepping out has never looked like so much fun.

Fruitmarket Gallery, 225 2383, until 31 Oct, free.

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