Apollo
Interviews

In the studio with… Michael Landy

5 July 2021

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Michael Landy’s Break Down, the notorious performance in which the artist destroyed every single one of his possessions before burying them in a landfill. The work was presented as a comment on consumer culture and on the commodification of art, themes which have continued to occupy the erstwhile YBA. For his latest project Landy, who grew up in Ilford, Essex, has charted a cultural history of his home county – from stale stereotypes to major archaeological discoveries. ‘Michael Landy: Welcome to Essex’ is at Firstsite in Colchester until 5 September.

Where is your studio?
Where I live. In East London.

What do you like most about the space?
It’s clean and there’s nothing in it – there are no clues to my being an artist.

Essex Man (after Collet) (2021), Michael Landy, after a drawing by Edward Collet. Installation view at Firstsite, 2021.

Essex Man (after Collet) (2021), Michael Landy, after a drawing by Edward Collet. Installation view at Firstsite, 2021. Photo: Jayne Lloyd

What frustrates you about it?
I can’t make a mess.

Do you work alone?
Yes.

How messy is your studio?
Don’t take the piss.

What’s the weirdest object in there?
A magnetic golden phallus.

Which artistic tool could you least do without?
My glue gun.

Essex Idol (2021), Michael Landy.

Essex Idol (2021), Michael Landy. Photo: Steve Russell. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery; © Michael Landy

What’s the most well-thumbed book in your studio?
The Essex Girl Joke Book, written by Ray Leigh and Brent Wood.

What’s your typical studio lunch?
Chicken jalfrezi from M&S (chicken jalfrezi ’cause rhyming slang is crazy).

What do you listen to while you’re working?
I talk to myself.

Do you ever sleep in your studio?
Yes, 20 minutes, mid afternoon.

Is anything (or anyone) banned from your studio?
Clutter and stuff.

‘Michael Landy: Welcome to Essex’ is at Firstsite, Colchester until 5 September.

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