The Fussy Eye: Silly/Not Silly

Big dog, meet small dog.

Scottish conceptual artist Martin Creed wasn't in attendance for the mid- September opening of his show Open/Closed, Big/Small, Full/Empty, On/Off, but he assigned four specific binary oppositions to enact and be examined: 1) curtains opening and closing (viewed from the parking lot); 2) a very big dog and a very small dog occupying the same large central gallery; 3) a room half-full of balloons; and 4) a floor lamp flashing on and off in a small, dark gallery. You can guess which were the most popular. Everyone got out their camera phones to snap pictures of the balloons and the dogs. (These were: a huge, grinning Irish wolfhound that greeted every crotch with a friendly muzzle, and a shy, handbag-sized Chihuahua that just wanted to be held.) Adults waded into the balloon room, like crazed toddlers in the McDonald's bouncy-ball pen. As for the curtains and lamp, well, we already have those at home. (Do you sometimes turn your lamp on and off, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? Do you open and shut your curtains just to mess with your neighbors? You, too, might be a Scottish conceptual artist.) The silliness of the whole endeavor is that it's so easy to apprehend: one small idea divided into four, a fractional conceptual installation that diminishes in importance every minute you linger. But the dogs will be there for the duration, eager for your visit. And you can construct binaries of your own. For instance, profound/not. 

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