press release

Michael Landy, one of the most acclaimed and respected British artists of his generation, transforms the South London Gallery into Art Bin, a container for the disposal of works of art. Over the course of the six-week exhibition the enormous 600m³ bin becomes, in Michael Landy’s words, “a monument to creative failure”.

Landy famously destroyed all his possessions in his 2001 installation Break Down and this major new work also raises issues around disposal, destruction, value and ownership.

Art Bin foregrounds the role of subjectivity in the attribution of value, as well as the significance of emotional attachments. Exposing the ultimate power and influence of both perceived and actual monetary value, the work also questions the relationship between ownership and authorship. Art Bin toys with the role of art institutions in making and possibly breaking careers, acknowledges their important role in the art market, and makes reference to the derision with which contemporary art is sometimes treated.

Anyone can apply to dispose of art works in Art Bin, but only those works accepted by Michael Landy or his representative will be allowed into the bin. In this way Landy effectively builds his own art collection, merging artist and collector into one and drawing attention to the complexities surrounding the acquisition and de-accessioning of art works. Landy has commented: “Art Bin is about failure, either within particular art work, or more generally in artists’ practice: nobody discards art which has some sort of intrinsic value, so the bin becomes a monument to creative failure”.

Art Bin develops ideas explored in earlier works, most notably Break Down, an installation in what was formerly a C&A department store on Oxford Street. After cataloguing everything he owned including his car, his birth certificate and works of art by other artists, Landy systematically destroyed it all on a factory production line over a two-week period. Six years earlier, in Scrapheap Services (1995), Landy created a fictional cleaning company to clear the east end's Chisenhale Gallery of thousands of cut-out figures covering the floor. Here the artist assumed the corporate identity of Scrapheap Services, sweeping away society's undesirable elements. More recently Landy’s interest in destruction in art has been channelled into drawings, sculptures and a film made in tribute to Homage to New York, 1960, by the Swiss sculptor, Jean Tinguely (1925-91), whose fascination with destruction and use of discarded materials has been an important influence on Landy’s work since he saw a Tinguely retrospective when he was a student.

Until 14 March 2010 works can be brought to the South London Gallery to be disposed of in Art Bin from Tuesday to Sunday, 12-6pm. Alternatively, artists and collectors can visit to apply to dispose of works, multiple applications are welcome.

Michael Landy was born in London in 1963, where he continues to live and work. He studied at Loughborough College of Art and Goldsmiths College, London (1985-8) and was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in May 2008. In January 2010 he begins his tenure as the National Gallery’s eighth Rootstein Hopkins Foundation Associate Artist.

He participated in the landmark group exhibition Freeze (1988) and has participated in numerous shows in this country and abroad, most recently Joyous Machines: Michael Landy and Jean Tinguely, Tate Liverpool, 2009; Nathalie Obadia, Paris, 2009; Alexander and Bonin, New York, 2007; To Burn Oneself with Oneself: The Romantic Damage Show, de Appel, Amsterdam, 2008; Semi-detached, Tate Britain, London, 2004; Micro/Macro: British Art 1996-2002, Mucsarnok Kunsthalle, Budapest, 2003; Shopping: Art and Consumer Culture, Kunstverein Frankfurt and Tate Liverpool, 2003; From Blast To Frieze: A Century of British Art, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg and Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, 2002/3; XXIV Bienal de São Paulo, 2002.

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Michael Landy
Art Bin