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.
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