All day, every day, for the next four months an athlete will run the 86 metres of Tate Britain’s central Duveens Galleries and 30 seconds later, another runner will follow, and after 30 seconds there will be another and so on. The piece, called Work No. 850, was conceived by artist, Martin Creed who said:
“If you think about death as being completely still and movement as a sign of life, then the fastest movement possible is the biggest sign of life. So then running fast is like the exact opposite of death: it’s an example of aliveness.”
The Open Wound asked Tate Britain if we could speak to a normal person.
“There is something inherently absurd in this work and it should be viewed as a kind of metaphor for life being the opposite of stillness and death,” said a director.
We asked if we could speak to a really normal person.
“There a funny lot here,” said Anita Verkplays, chief cleaner for the Tate. “One time I got reprimanded for tidying up an unmade bed, and again when I changed that flippin’ light bulb that kept going on and off.
Now we’ve got bloody students running through here all day in their muddy trainers. I caught one yesterday with the business end of my mop, and this morning I tripped one with my Hoover cable. But however fast I drop ‘em they replace them. It’s a bit like the Vietnam War, and I’m playing the part of the Vietcong.”
“Entrance to Tate Britain is free,” said a spokesman, “if you want proper art, like paintings and stuff we’ll have to start charging.”