Our tutors used to tell us that the best work at an exhibition isn’t necessarily the interactive crowd-pleaser that everyone remembers, but at Frieze Art Fair last night I think it is safe to say that one man quite literally smashed that theory into pieces – the mercurial Michael Landy and his Credit Card Destroying Machine…
Situated in the Thomas Dane Gallery (F17), Landy’s 12 ft, Jean Tinguely-inspired contraption whirrs and rumbles in front of a crowd itching to find out what on earth’s going on. They step forward one-by-one and select a felt-tip colour (red, blue, green or black) and then watch as a woman at the machine attaches the pens to a page of a sketchbook. As her foot touches a button on the floor, the machine whirrs into life, cogs roll, scissors snip, saws turn and cuddly toys wobble, producing a spirograph-like drawing.
But before taking their custom-made artwork, they must hand over their credit card, which is dropped unceremoniously into a fluoro wood chipper, to be obliterated and spat out into a hundred pieces below. Throughout this procedure, Landy stands anonymously in the queue of people listening to their reactions and inner battles with whether or not they should – or can – be separated with such finality from their credit cards.
Landy’s own homage to Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York stole the show, and has left hundreds of people – including myself- unexpectedly leaving the fair down a credit card, up a piece of legitimate artwork and wondering excitedly what he’ll do next.
About the Author
Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and worked across online, print and events, and was latterly Features Editor before leaving in May 2015.