If you weren’t among the masses that hit Phoenix Art Museum during November's First Friday, you may have missed Martin Creed’s Work No. 2497 Half the air in a given space, a temporary art installation that’s coming down after December 31.
Comprising 1,728 large white balloons that museum-goers negotiate as they walk through a gallery space, it’s one of many conceptual, experimental works by the British multimedia artist and musician born in 1968.
Others include Work No. 2704, a mixed-media installation with sacks piled like garbage into a corner, and Work No. 2325, a series of eight multicolor neon letters spelling out WHATEVER. In 2001, Creed won the prestigious Turner Prize organized by the Tate Museum for Work No. 227 The lights going on and off, in which a room full of lights cycled on and off at short intervals.
Phoenix Art Museum acquired Creed’s Work No. 2497 earlier this year using funds from its support organization Contemporary Forum. The purchase was made in honor of Gilbert Vicario, who joined the museum as chief curator in 2015.
Typically, museums favor the “don’t touch” motto when it comes to art. But this installation invites interaction, which is reason enough to add it to your year-end list of fun outings.
Creed’s Work No. 2497 is meant to share physical space with museum visitors, who enter the installation through one door and exit through another. They’re aided by a museum docent standing at the exit, whose voice amplified via megaphone helps people navigate their way through the sea of balloons.
Basically, all people see while they’re inside is the mass of white balloons, and the small spaces between them that shift as people pass through. For some, it’s the art museum equivalent of a novelty toy. But for others, it’s a playful prompt to consider the ways people and objects occupy space, or the ways they share physical geographies with others.
Whatever your approach, the installation is worth exploring.
It's tough to top in terms of art that makes memories, or selfie moments. There's even a dedicated hashtag, in case you feel inspired to share your balloon adventures @phxart on social media: #creedphxart.
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The museum estimates that more than 18,000 visitors have experienced Work No. 2497 Half the air in a given space, since it opened on November 4.
After December 31, the work will be will de-installed by removing and deflating every balloon, and then all installation materials will be placed in storage. However, Phoenix Art Museum officials expect to reinstall the work in another part of the museum sometime during the next two years.
Work No. 2497 Half the air in a given space is on view through Saturday, December 31, at Phoenix Art Museum. Access to the installation is free with museum admission, which is $18 for adults. Find more information and holiday hours on the Phoenix Art Museum website.