The Apostate Creed

The Apostate Creed

Martin Creed (Hugo Glendinning)

In 2001, Martin Creed (b. 1968) won Britain’s most prestigious art award, the Turner Prize. Shock, indignation (some thrown eggs) and, yes, laughter ensued. What indeed had he created? The answer: an installation with self-descriptive title—"The lights going on and off.” Now, inside New York’s Park Avenue Armory, in a small parlor lined by antique portraits, he has replicated that experience with one-second-interval shifts between illumination and darkness.

Creed, the first artist ever given the landmark’s entire first floor, has inserted a series of such “is this art?” happenings—a grand piano rigged to open and slam shut, metronomes beating at different speeds, a claustrophobic passage through large white balloons, a line of wandering troubadours performing his music, objects stacked by size or placed among actual trophies, plus other surprises. A set of bunkerlike rooms posts a parental advisory for 18 short films that range from loops of whimsical pets and battered flowers to unflinching documentaries that star body functions.

Key: The 55,000-square-foot drill hall has been emptied of all but a vast screen for slo-mo videos of women showing the food in their mouths. That sequence alternates with an event that titles the whole show—“The Back Door,” in which a garagelike delivery door rolls up to frame, for a few moments, the random drama of New York street life.

“Martin Creed: The Back Door,” Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave., 212.616.3930, 212.933.5812 (box office), www.armoryonpark.org, thru Aug. 7, Tu-W 2-7 pm, Th-F 2-10 pm (with libations), Sa-Su noon-6 pm, $15 (children under 5 free)