Michael Landy was born in 1963 in London. He studied at Loughborough College of Art in 1981 before attending Goldsmiths College, London from 1985 to 1988. Landy became part of the infamous Young British Artist set following his participation in the group exhibition Freeze, curated by fellow student Damien Hirst in 1988.
In 2001, Landy produced his best known work Break Down in which he examined society’s romance with consumerism. Over the duration of two weeks in a disused shop on Oxford Street, London, a team of eleven blue-overall clad assistants systematically catalogued then destroyed Landy’s entire possessions, ranging from his car to his birth certificate. In total, 7,227 items of his belongings were placed on a 100 metre long conveyor belt within the shop and then dismantled to their component parts. Finally, they were either crushed or granulated and placed into refuse sacks. Thus the project not only involved the breakdown of Landy’s possessions, but also the emotional breakdown of how a person can begin his life again having lost every material possession. Break Down (2002), is a pen and ink drawing in which Landy retrospectively recorded the experience in the minutest of detail.
For his work of 1995 Scrapheap Services, Landy created a company which promised to rid society of “scum” — the economically marginalised and non-productive — as if they were simply one more unwanted by-product of the consumer society. Over a two-year period, Landy meticulously created the uniforms, logos and equipment for his fictitious company. The large-scale installation that resulted centred on the gigantic Vulture people-shredder, which slowly reduced to minute pieces the millions of tiny figures, laboriously cut out of salvaged drinks cans. Some of the scraps from Michael Landy's installation Scrapheap Services are preserved in the red plastic sack entitled We Love the Jobs You Hate (1995).
Landy has exhibited extensively both in the UK and abroad including recent solo exhibitions Art Bin at South London Gallery, 2010; Joyous Machines at Tate Liverpool, 2009 and Michael Landy: Semi-detached at Tate Britain, London, 2004. His work was also seen in seminal group exhibitions such as Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection at Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1997; Brilliant! New Art from Britain, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 1995; East Country Yard Show, London, 1990 and Freeze, London, 1988.