The Post-Postmodernism Issue

Michael Landy

Break down your possessions.
Michael Landy - Break Down
Michael Landy - Break Down

A member of the celebrated generation of Young British Artists, Michael Landy distanced himself from the material success that came to define his counterparts when he systematically catalogued and destroyed each of his more than 7,000 personal possessions in 2001. Break Down saw the destruction of everything from childhood photographs to kitchen utensils and socks, leaving the artist with no material means of self-definition. Landy’s effects were placed into gaping plastic bins and left to circulate on a conveyor belt for two weeks before meeting their final end. The show’s onlookers witnessed the reversal of production line consumerism: a microcosmic experiment in which the capitalist model of logic was inverted and subsequently destroyed. Break Down was intended as an examination of consumer culture, but it was also an act of purification, both personal and philosophical, that severed Landy’s physical connection to the past. It was a sacrifice made to the possibility of something entirely new.

Sarah Nardi

22 comments on the article “Michael Landy”

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Anonymous

i knew a poet who once burned all of his life's work so that he could feel what it was like to die

Anonymous

i knew a poet who once burned all of his life's work so that he could feel what it was like to die

Westwind

If he even recycled his socks, what was he wearing at the end?

(Did he put anything large in the grinder-- like a house or a car?)

Great project. I knew someone who got rid of everything -- even his mercury fillings.

Westwind

If he even recycled his socks, what was he wearing at the end?

(Did he put anything large in the grinder-- like a house or a car?)

Great project. I knew someone who got rid of everything -- even his mercury fillings.

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