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.
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.
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