A friend of mine mentioned that she almost set her closet on fire because she was frustrated and couldn't find anything new to wear. What a relief to start over again. I long for this kind of new beginning every time the burden of responsibility fets too heavy. Michael Landy systematically catalogued each one of his more than 7227 personal posessions 2011 in his artwork "Break Down". I came across his work on tv at "ARTE" and I am very pleased we got the chance to talk to him about his work, consumer culture and material means of self-definition...
Michael Landy, born in 1963, is a british artist and also part of the Young British Artists, who are exhibiting since 1988 together.
Always trying to stimulate the society to think a bit further and criticizing the consumer society his artworks are often done in a very shocking and remarkable way. During the project "Art Bin" for example he requested his fellow men and colleagues to destroy contemporary artworks in a big, artificial wastebin. A lot of well-known artists such as Damien Hirst who is also part of the YBAs.
Landy is mostly known for his project "Break Down" he did to stake a stand against the capitalistic economy system. Questioning what we are without our possessions he destroyed all his belongings including everyday things aswell as his own art collection.
Some extraxts of our interview:
[...]"It probably was the first time in my life that I was kind of financially
ahead in my life and then i thought about you know i had a car and some expensive suits.
and then i thought how i will screw it up for myself, and what was this all about anyway.
Then a thought popped up in my head that i should destroy all my worldy belongings. so it
kinda began from that really and then about 4 years later it ended up on Oxford Street."[...]
[...]"In a western society you can’t avoid it. You end up with stuff, as we call it, no matter what really.
So even though obviously i destroyed all of my 7227 personal possesions at the age of 37,
I knew that I would immediately have to re-emerge myself within that system because i
wasn’t going to a desert island somewhere. I knew it was inescapable. That was part of the
issue about the idea that I was destroying things in front of people that weren’t necessarily
the most up-to-date products and you felt sort of embarassed about that and that’s partly
how consumerism works. To make you feel slightly guilty so you have to go out and
[...]"Is there something you miss, or regret having destroyed?"
"No, because i think i treated everything with the same value. I’m interested in value in some
different ways. Obviously my artwork has a different value to family photographs as to a vcr
to a car to some clothes. So i treated everything more or less excactly the same. I mean i
destroyed some weird things like Holy Water from the holy shrine in knock. Knock is in the
west coast of ireland, and there was an apparation of the virgin mary. I’m not sure how we
destroyed holy water, maybe someone drank it and blessed himself repeatetly."[...]
Read more about Michael Landy and "Break Down" in I LOVE YOU NO.7 THE WRONG ISSUE.
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