14 September 2021

everything ends up somewhere

In 2000, the British artist Michael Landy spent twelve months cataloging everything he owned, from handwritten notes to a single PG Tips tea bag on a string. The final inventory included 7,227 items, weighing a total of 5.75 metric tons. For two weeks in February 2001, Landy and a team of assistants systematically destroyed every single one of his possessions as a performance art piece, Break Down. His furniture was smashed, his passport and birth certificate shredded. A mechanic dismantled his car. Even old artwork and photographs weren’t spared. Everything he owned was pulped or granulated and sent to a landfill site in Essex. (. . .) The most difficult thing to destroy was a sheepskin coat that had belonged to his father, which he saved until the very end. (. . .) “destroyed” is really just a euphemism. The remains of Landy’s things ended in landfill, to begin a new, patient existence among the 16 million metric tons of household waste that enters UK landfill every year.

“Away” is a lie, the kind that lets us dream of lives cleansed of possessions. (. . .) At the end of the performance, Landy was a kind of modern miracle: a man entirely untethered from material possessions, lifted free of consumer society. But it didn’t last. Before he left the building, someone handed him a record to restart his collection. He had been the owner of precisely nothing for about ten minutes.

To read the entire story, click here.

I find this story somewhat moving, the effort, the futility. The stuff people do to find meaning, to learn, to forget. To occupy their time, maybe. 

Today, I've spent a good deal of my time looking at holiday accommodation in Singapore, chasing a dream. And I have not checked in with dr google for a definite diagnosis why my lower legs go numb. Not both, just one at a time, not always, just every so often. Instead I'll wait the 13 more days for the medical appointment with the expert, shaking with fearful anticipation. 

Can't all be bad, I did dance for a bit today. With abandon as the saying goes.


 

And we looked at the sunset from the good spot up high.


 

The garden is gone to seed.


 



 

9 comments:

  1. I suppose he got a lot of accolades (I don't really get performance art, well, music, yes). My reaction? what a fucking selfish asshole. destroying perfectly good stuff that could have just been given away to people who wanted it or needed it, instead adding 5.7 metric tons of trash on a planet already drowning in trash to make some kind of stupid fleeting statement. I couldn't even read about it it pissed me off so much. not like he did something new and astounding, homeless people are way ahead of the curve on that. plenty of people have divested themselves of their material goods in a much more positive way. that's how we got a lot of our furniture when we were just starting out, most of which we still have and use, from a guy getting rid of his possessions in an attempt to free himself. an illusion at best. so this so called artist, was he planning to be homeless relying on other people to feed him, go around naked, sleep in the park?

    I thought my afib was settling down after two days free. nope.

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    1. Thank you for these thoughts. Yes, he could have given it away and made a piece of art about that and we don't know whether he actually did that (there is an interview from 2020/2021 somewhere about what else he does regarding recycling and sustainability). The thing I read from this is that he pointed out that destroying what some consider perfectly good stuff (and lots would disagree, just look at what people throw away) does not happen, because it always ends up somewhere - as so-called trash. If this had not been in the UK the landfill sites would be crawling with mostly kids collecting anything of use, simply to survive while he and many of us wealthy people make an art form out of "living the simple life". Here, we have mountains of used clothing that people pass on for "a good cause", it's far too much and most charities pick the usable items and sell the rest to recycling firms - since in Germany, there now is a law against selling it to dealers in African countries who then flood the markets there with our used clothing putting local manufacturers out of business. Still ends up there, as does our plastic waste and electrical goods. Meanwhile there are people who pay 300,000 million to spend three days in space for fun.

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  2. Interesting story. ellen abbott's comment definitely awakened me to the bigger picture of his selfish destruction. I have an image on my computer desk top that has a photo of earth with the words: When You Throw It Away Think: There Is No Away.
    What we humans are doing to our one and only beautiful earth disheartens me every single day. There is no away.
    Nice music and beautiful photos. I hope all goes well at your doctor's appointment, Sabine. Take care there.

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  3. As I was reading about this artist I thought, how stupid. He'll just have to replace everything, making more garbage in the end. It seems quite pointless.

    How is your Vitamin B12? That could cause numbness.

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  4. “One way or another, I’m trying to get rid of myself,” Landy explained.

    Thank you so much, Sabine, for the link to that insightful article which wasted no words.

    I'm reminded of this performance artist who disappeared or did he get rid of himself?:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bas_Jan_Ader

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ1U3XbEzR4

    Hoping that your sky is as clear and blue and beautiful as ours is today. At 3 a.m. this morning, the sky was cloudless and Orion and the Pleiades were rising in the sky to the east. Thank you so much for the music. Hoping that the expert can help you with the leg numbness. Sending love.




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  5. I share your nervous anticipation of a medical consultation. My recent surgery entirely bypassed my GP since the reference went from my dentist directly to the maxillo-facial surgeon who subsequently did the op.The surgeon has kept my GP informed about the op and post-op (By real typed letters, copied to me!) and has brought his attention to some discrepancies - independent of the op - revealed by a recent blood test. The GP will phone me this morning at 11.45 but the receptionist, sighing, said I must regard this time as "approx.". These phoned consultations are supposed to be limited to about 10 minutes but in an excess of enthusiasm this particular GP - head of the practice - tends to let them run on according to what's revealed. A good thing and a bad thing.

    In between, promptly at 08.30, V, my singing teacher, will call me with my 90 minute Skyped lesson. These lessons have taken on much more than just musical instruction and I wish you had access to such psycho-therapeutic benefits. Music, from the inside, is turning out to be a much deeper facet of my make-up than I ever imagined six years ago and the lessons, sympathetically delivered, effectively blot out quotidian concerns.

    You make a good point about the so-called charitable middle classes in industrial countries donating clothing to disaster areas. Judging by the TV footage we regularly see of these areas I would imagine clothing was the least of emigrant worries. There is, after all, only so much people can wear. I hope of all the things that Landy had minced up he doesn't find himself regretting the passport.

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  6. Yeah, that artist, this beholder is a fan of his conception of art. Singapore, huh? We are all chasing holiday dreams right now. I hope yours come true.

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  7. Dancing always welcome in this world of sorrows.

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  8. That "art" makes me uneasy. Why add to landfills what could be used by other people? It just seems so wasteful.

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