WE LOVE THE JOBS YOU HATE 1995
Michael Landy (1963 – )
- 24 X 18 X 18 CM
- PLASTIC REFUSE SACK FILLED WITH METAL CUT-OUTS
- Accession number
Some of the scraps from Michael Landy’s installation Scrapheap Services are preserved in this red plastic sack. Its red colouring and corporate logo (six stickmen all a-tumble) united the different elements of Landy’s tableau - a hellish vision of a fictional cleaning company in action, originally shown in the Chisenhale Gallery in East London. The stickmen of the logo were the template for the many thousands of figures strewn over the floor, which were presided over by five uniformed mannequins posing as street-sweepers and an assortment of bins (five litter-bins, four bins mounted on poles and two fixed to the walls), plus a dust-cart and a shredder. They were joined by corporate placards, of the sort to be found in municipal parks, which read, 'We leave the scum with no place to hide'. The ‘we’ of the slogan was unidentified: Landy’s company was answerable to no one.
The waste management scenario emerged from an obsessive way of working and is full of sharp edges. After graduating from Goldsmiths in 1988, Landy spent a fallow period on the dole and collecting junk around London. He then performed a kind of alchemy, cutting stickmen out of his hoard of tin cans, cartons and packets, to create something new. As a relic of Scrapheap Services, the present piece stands as a memorial to the people who were left behind by the Thatcher government’s labour market reforms, which were by the early 1990s taking effect in cuts to public services and high unemployment. Laurence Sillars stresses the direct political message of Landy’s installation as an allegory for ‘a system to remove the seemingly “disposable” section of society who, without work, were state-dependent.’ Sitting plump and tied at the top, the refuse sack of stickmen has a bitter humour to it. Its title adopts the jokey slogan of a contemporaneous advertising campaign for Mr Muscle, a popular cleaning detergent.
 Laurence Sillars, ‘Failing to Fail: Michael Landy and Jean Tinguely’, Joyous Machines: Michael Landy and