Michael Landy


Peter Vanezis, a forensic scientist who specializes in human identification, was recently asked on British radio about the emotional demands of the human rights work he undertakes in places like Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia. He replied that his professional composure was tested most when the bodies he examined still bore personal effects: a toy clutched in a child’s hand, for example. Even in the era of global capital, a possession can be something other than a commodity. Nevertheless, when Michael Landy was planning Break Down, 2001, his Times/Artangel Open commission, he decided to catalogue, weigh, dismantle, and pulverize all his worldly goods, irrespective of their commodity value or personal significance. Landy sums up his project as a portrait of the artist as consumer, not a study of his personal history or feelings. Even so, it’s impossible not to speculate about the emotional

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