Follow the Yellow

michael landy’s art bin

In 2001’s Break Down, Michael Landy famously destroyed everything he owned in a single, extreme artistic gesture. Now, in a new work showing at the South London Gallery, he is inviting other artists to get in on the act and dump their work in a giant Art Bin – his “monument to creative failure”.

Works from a whole range of artists have already been dumped – including those by Tracy Emin, Sir Peter Blake, Michael Craig-Martin, Mark Titchner and Gillian Wearing, as well as Landy himself. Damien Hirst has also consigned two of his iconic skull paintings to the bin.

Anyone can offer up their artwork to be trashed, but Landy and his representatives make the final selection of what will go into the bin itself. However, Landy insists that there’s no hierarchy of artistic value: “I don’t have a set of criteria and it’s not about the quality of the work, because in the artworld there’s no concensus on what’s good and bad.

There’s something appealingly anarchic about Art Bin – both as a witty, if glib, response to the stock notion of contemporary art as just “a load of old rubbish” and as a provocative exploration of how we judge the value of art itself. Most interestingly to me though, it’s also an investigation of the creative process, and especially of the notion of artistic success or failure. As Landy says: “There will be good artworks going into the bin, but it is up to the artist to decide what failure is.”

Art Bin can be found at the South London Gallery until 14 March.

[Image via Art Bin website]

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