In summer 2016, Museum Tinguely Basel is showing the first retrospective outside of the UK by British artist Michael Landy. The exhibition “Michael Landy. Out of Order” brings together works from the 1990 to today and thereby covers his entire oeuvre so far. The works are part of a single, comprehensive exhibition installation, which can be “explored on a walk, like in an English landscape” (M. Landy). Landy’s art is characterized by an intensive confrontation with society, with the attitude towards consumption, towards the consumer world, towards the ephemerality of things, and towards dealing with possessing and letting go. With his works, (unexpressed) essential questions are raised: What does material possession do to us? What do we need to live? Or even: How creative is destruction? The artist succeeds again and again in finding easy-to-grasp and surprising artistic formulas concerning these subjects. On the occasion of the finissage, Sunday 25 September, Museum Tinguely celebrates its 20th anniversary with a ‘Special Out of Order Day‘ at the museum and Solitude Park.
Right at the beginning of his career Landy succeeded in finding a form for an abstractum such as the consumer world with the installation Market (1990). By showing empty market booths, by furnishing a large hall with tiered, artificial lawn-covered booths that lacked one essential thing–goods–he moved precisely these latter into the focus of interest. Michael Landy completed a degree course at Goldsmiths College from 1985 until 1988; in 1988 he was part of the “Freeze” exhibition, and he belongs to the golden generation of British artists, the so-called “Young British Artists”, who shaped artistic development in Great Britain circa 1990 with shock tactics, the use of refuse, the staging of wild living, and a simultaneously oppositional and entrepreneurial attitude. He grew up in the Great Britain of Margaret Thatcher, in a torn society characterized by social conflicts, large-scale unemployment, deindustrialization and, associated with this, massive upheavals in the work world. Hackney in East London, his parents’ place of residence at the time, is a traditionally working-class borough that was strongly affected by the politics of the ‘Iron Lady’ and her successor John Major.