Image by B. Alter
Michael Landy is an artist who makes art, and a career, out of throwing away and recycling things, big time. Art Bin, his latest work, consists of a giant transparent dumpster which will be slowly filled with hundreds of pieces of art over the next six weeks. At the end of the show it will all be destroyed.
And it's not just any old piece of art that is in the bin. Artists had to submit their work for Landy's approval and he decides whether it goes in or not. There are some very famous friends who have had work accepted and some not so famous as well. He is calling it a "monument to failure." So what is going on here...
Image by B. Alter
There is a large flight of steel steps, and the artist stands at the top and hurls in the work with a crash. After a few have been thrown in, the bin looks like a sad pile of leftover garbage, with bits of wood and broken glass.
Its probably the first time that a garbage dumpster has been curated by an artist. Very famous YBA's (young british artists) have donated work that could have sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds in some cases. They are voluntarily turning their work into garbage. Michael Landy himself is on duty at the gallery where members of the public who want to donate work can bring it. He will decide whether or not to accept it.
Bakunin said that "A passion for destruction is also a creative passion." This may be the key to his work. Landy is interested in exploring how value is assessed in the art world. Artists want to put their work into his bin even though the art will be destroyed. Suddenly being accepted into a dumpster adds value to their work.
What does that mean about the quality of the work and how the art market works. He is creating an art collection on the spot and has become a collector, as well as an artist.
Image from myspace
In Landy's last project, Break Down, he destroyed all of his possessions. He created a Rube Goldberg-like conveyor belt system that ate up everything he owned, including his BMW car as well as books, furniture and clothing. He had lists on the wall documenting every item that was destroyed. At the end it was a container full of compressed stuff and it was all ground into dust.
In this new work, the huge perspex bin will be slowly filled over the next six weeks and then it will all be sent to a landfill. Nothing will be salvaged.