CLEVELAND (September 13, 2012) – The Cleveland Museum of Art has acquired Work No. 965: Half the air in a given space, a 2008 artwork by Martin Creed, one of Great Britain's most acclaimed contemporary artists. From September 30 through November 25, 2012, the work will be on view in the museum's Betty T. and David M. Schneider Gallery (east wing glass box gallery), which has housed a four-year-long installation of sculptures by August Rodin drawn from the museum's collection. Work No. 965: Half the air in a given space is comprised of thousands of 11-inch purple balloons that are filled with air equaling half of the entire volume of the room containing them. Visitors will be encouraged to walk into the space, instantly activating movement with the balloons, creating interaction with the artwork and the space. Visible from the outside of the museum, Work No. 965: Half the air in a given space will also engage passersby as they navigate the city streets, walking paths and gardens surrounding the museum campus.
"Martin Creed's playful installation will activate the east wing, one of the museum's signature galleries, and put the work in dialogue with the extraordinary architectural setting and the comprehensive permanent collection," stated C. Griffith Mann, Ph.D., the museum's deputy director and chief curator. "The timing of this acquisition is purposeful in that this installation, together with the museum's recently reconfigured contemporary galleries, has been scheduled to run in tandem with the completion of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland's new building, scheduled to open in October. This is a moment when Cleveland is showcasing its engagement with international contemporary artists."
First created by Creed in 1998 in white as Work No. 200 and then proposed again in different colors in subsequent years, Work No. 965: Half the air in a given space (2008) is composed entirely of monochromatic purple balloons and the title points to the interior volume at the site where the piece is installed. The piece is configured to fill the gallery with balloons containing half of the gallery's volume in air for the duration of exhibition (as deflated balloons are replaced weekly). Filled with compressed air and hovering from the floor to a distance halfway to the ceiling, the mass of balloons is not dense and it envelopes people inside the gallery, provoking a diverse range of reactions among visitors as they move through the artwork. Seen from outside, the balloons move in response to the actions of visitors with the gallery.
Martin Creed was born in 1968 in Wakefield, England, grew up in Glasgow, and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Literal and direct in character, his works can have an uncanny aspect to them, like in Work No. 127: The lights going on and off (1995), which consists of an empty room where the light switches on and off at regular intervals. He won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2001, and his work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at numerous museums, including Tate Modern, London, Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands and Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Creed is interested in expression which ties directly to the human senses and avoids any relationship with artistic categories.
Work No. 965: Half the air in a given space strengthens significantly the representation of "installation art," which adapts its sculptural components to the specificity of a space, in the Cleveland Museum of Art's permanent contemporary collection. In addition, this acquisition offers a strong link between the museum's visual arts collection and its historic music and performing arts program, in that the artwork is directly connected and reliant upon the audience as an active participant in generating a variety of experiences and responses.