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.