In 1993 Landy set about creating a fictitious cleaning company called Scrapheap Services. What started as a six-month project escalated into a large-scale venture spanning over two years. The resulting installation at Chisenhale Gallery has a strong visual impact. Small cut-out figures, made from old cans, fast food wrapping and household waste, are strewn across the floor or swept into piles awaiting collection. Life size mannequins dressed in colour co-ordinated workwear are the cleaners. Enameled signs depicted an earthly paradise, idealised landscapes free from imperfection and clutter. These images of a problem-free world manifests Scrapheap Services’ ultimate goal, “to rid society of all its ills so giving a better quality of life” (Michael Landy, Scrapheap Services video, 1995).
The focal point of the installation is ‘Vulture’, an eleven foot purpose built shredder for disposing of all the cut out people. A twenty-five horse power engine and welded steel construction with self-sharpening blades inside ensured that Vulture “cuts through people instantly, leaving them torn apart”. The resulting pile of scrapheap was the company product, symbolising wasted human potential. This installation is accompanied by a promotional video complete with corporate jingle: “Scrapheap Services: We leave the scum with no place to hide”.
Michael Landy was born in London in 1963, where he currently lives and works. He studied at Goldsmith's College from 1985 to 1988.