Art and Music      
Christopher Ward London


Michael Landy's Art Bin

AARON HUNT: Imagine a place where artistic failure exits under an atmosphere of frustration and inspirational defeat. A place where every piece of work is deemed insufficient or disappointing in the eyes of its creator. Whether such works of art are riddled with mistakes or personal imperfections, very rarely do we ever get to see these rejects of the art world. Well, you may surprised to hear that such a place does in fact exist. From now until the 14th of March, British artist Michael Landy will be paying tribute to artistic failure by transforming the South London Gallery into what he calls Art Bin, an enormous structural container built specifically for the disposal of works of art. The plan is that over the course of the show the Art Bin will fill up and ultimately create in Michael Landy’s words “a monument to creative failure”.

It was quite a sight seeing canvas, sculpture and all things in between precariously thrown into what could have easily appeared to the untrained eye as a growing pile of junk. While, amongst it all one could see works from the likes of Tracey Emin and Damein Hirst.

Those that had begun to congregate around the gigantic container jeered and applauded in approval with every shattering crash that echoed through the building, as those on hand to assist Michael Landy witnessed the discarded pieces of art work plummet toward the broken mound that had already started to form. It almost felt as if you could see all the anguish and dissatisfaction within the pieces expel themselves amongst the rising dust and flying shards of glass. Over the busy chatting and banging, a sense of a relief seemed to fill the air on the artist’s part at least. Perhaps it was in seeing, or more to the point knowing that their unsuccessful creations, which had hung over them for so long, were now finally destroyed.

This idea of artistic demolition is the perfect sequel to Landy’s most famous work – Break Down, 2001 in which he famously destroyed all his possessions raising issues around disposal, destruction, value and ownership. After cataloguing everything he owned including his car, birth certificate and works of art by other artists, Landy systematically destroyed it all over a two-week period in what was formerly a C&A department store on Oxford Street.

Alongside some of the art worlds elite, Michael Landry has also encouraged lesser known artists in applying to dispose of their unsatisfying art work. Needless to say, the reaction to this invite had art students and art collectors alike queuing up for the chance to become a part of Art Bin. I myself also applied to enter in an unfinished sketch I had found earlier that day and was pleasantly surprised to see it float down onto the cluttered heap moments later. In this way Landy is able to build his own unique art collection, merging artists and collectors into one and drawing attention to the complex issues that surround the acquisition and de-accessioning of art work.

Art Bin foregrounds the role of subjectivity in relation to value as well as the significance of emotional attachment. The work also questions the relationship between ownership and authorship. Art Bin toys with the role of art institutions in making and even possibly breaking careers. It acknowledges their important role in the art market whilst at the same time making reference to the derision with which contemporary art is sometimes treated in the media.

I’ll definitely be going back over the coming weeks to see how Michael Landy’s collection has progressed and highly recommend that you go and check it out for yourselves before the contents of the bin are erased for good.


Watch a short documentary on Art Bin at A&M TV.



2010-02-22 16:50:50
What's next Mike, from the art bin to the looney bin? Looks like artists are running out of viable ideas! The Best, PRINCEFREAKASSO

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