Michael Landy's brilliant new exhibition animates the gruesome legends of saints

Date
23 May 2013
Reading Time
2 minute read

It’s not abnormal to enjoy exhibitions, after all, thats the idea but when you come across a show that blows your mind to smithereens – now that’s uncommon. This is how I felt when I attended Michael Landy’s “Saints Alive” at the National Gallery. Armed only with the knowledge that Michael had “constructed robotic saints that move around,” I had no idea what to expect.

Michael took up residency at the National Gallery in 2010, and his imagination was captured by the images of saints dotted around the museum and how their single-mindedness lead to horrific deaths and self-harm. He wanted to bring back these “bad saints” whose stories had fallen into obscurity.

When you enter, your attention is grabbed by a towering sculpture of Saint Apollonia, you step on a lever and her hand violently springs up with a tooth between pliers (legend has it she had her teeth brutally ripped out). The sculpture is surrounded by a collection of collages which he calls “Frankenstein’s monsters” because of their mismatched nature, all connected by cogs and wheels hand-drawn by Michael. In the adjacent room, you are greeted by more surreal sculptures that bring to life the saints legendary actions which, until now, could only been seen in still two-dimension.

Whats so incredible is the noise made by these machine-like sculptures, they clank and bash together and you expect them to fall apart any second. It’s so unexpected because galleries are known for being hush-hush, and here are these sculptures creating such a commotion with their vulgar movements.

This really is a must see, it opens today until November 24 at the National Gallery, London.

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Michael Landy: Saints Alive at The National Gallery

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Michael Landy: Saints Alive at The National Gallery

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Michael Landy: Saints Alive at The National Gallery

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Michael Landy: Saints Alive at The National Gallery

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Michael Landy: Saints Alive at The National Gallery

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Michael Landy: Saints Alive at The National Gallery

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About the Author

Holly Wilkins

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