February 2, 2010

Le Deluge

Artist Michael Landy has launched a project whereby artists submit artworks to be “trashed” in a vast, glass-walled container. Notable names so far include Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Gillian Wearing - all have donated works to be unceremoniously dumped into Michael’s bin.(1)

Notably missing from this account of the project is any reference to John Baldessari’s 1970 Cremation Project. Baldessari decided all of his earlier work needed to be destroyed so he hired a crematorium to assist him with incinerating the lot.

Landy apparently did an earlier destruction piece called Break Down where he destroyed all of his possessions (car, clothing, personal items). Somewhat different than Art Bin, the earlier work obviously concerned consumerism and our addiction to amassing products. If we assume that Art Bin is about artworks that artists consider “failures” it seems to be more about definitions than destruction. Thus, it begs the question as to “why” the artists consider these particular works to be failures.

Two quibbles to note: Hirst’s donation of screen-prints hardly qualify as unique artworks given that they are reproductions; seems Damien is only paying lip service to Landy’s idea. Perhaps more disappointingly, it is also revealed that there is some sort of “jurying” process that possible donations have to go through before being consigned to the “skip.”

So Landy decides if the artwork is sufficiently enough of a “failure” to be granted the validation of joining the art star trash heap? Very disingenuous, not to mention an elitist take on who is avant enough to join Hirst, et al. in the art bin.

And I think they will need a bigger bin.

[Thanks to HAHA MAG ART for pointing this out.]

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1. These three artists were also (formerly) Young British Artists, i.e., yBa’s. Does this mean that Landy’s project has their “official” sanction?

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