Visualising an idea: Michael Landy’s Break Down

Michael Landy Breakdown drawing

Michael Landy, P.D.F. Product, Disposal Facility, 1998

As an idea, setting up a disposal facility to destroy all one’s possessions is pretty unusual and it’s certainly not one that conjures up an immediate image in the mind. There would be many ways to go: a big crushing machine perhaps, or maybe some sort of funnel and an industrial scale waste disposal unit like the ones you sometimes see in kitchen sinks but huge, or, well all sorts of other possibilities really. Which is what makes Michael Landy’s P.D.F. (do you see what he did there?) so fascinating.

Michael Landy P.D.F. detail drawing

detail from P.D.F.

The idea of using a production line – a strategy more usually associated with making than unmaking – to manually destroy objects is one of many possibilities so in proposing the project it makes sense that Landy would draw out his vision as he developed the idea and chased the commission that allowed him to realise the idea. The drawing carries a sense of thinking the idea through and identifying the stages necessary to complete the process. This is, in essence, drawing as narrative. It’s the sort of drawing that takes time to read, yielding up new information with each look in much the same way that, say, Paul Noble’s drawings do.

Although Break Down is recognisable from P.D.F., inevitably the actual installation looked rather different. There are of course photographs aplenty to demonstrate this but it probably comes as no surprise that there is also a drawing.

Michael Landy Breakdown drawing 2002

Breakdown, 2002

3 thoughts on “Visualising an idea: Michael Landy’s Break Down

  1. Interesting how the overall image resembles a board game. Did he sell it so that he could get some dinner?

    • I hadn’t thought of that but it’s true, it does look a lot like a board game.

      I’d guess the drawings were sold before hand (apart from the afterwards one) as everything in his studio – including quite a lot of work – was destroyed. Presumably any dinner bought with the proceeds would have been in restaurants on account of the whole destroying all his kitchen equipment thing. (Although he did only destroy his own stuff, so possibly his partner owned a cooker.)

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