Critical Analysis of Michael Landy's Scrapheap Services

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Michael Landy's "Scrapheap Services" is a 3D sculpture on display in the Tate Modern Gallery. It shows 3 men in boiler suits, their heads bent, as they are intent on their work in the disposing of `people who no longer play a useful role in society'. The room is scattered with little people cut out of discarded material such as aluminium cans, cigarette boxes and fast food wrappers. Uniformed mannequins are in the process of sweeping up the figures, gathering them into bins, and consigning them to a shredding machine called "The Vulture", as vultures clear aware rotten carcasses the machine will do similar. The company's logo `Scrapheap Services' appears throughout the installation as a written notice of what is happening. My initial feelings of the model are ones of curiosity. How long have they been working? How do they feel about the work? And will they ever totally dispose of `people who no longer play a useful role in life'? I like this piece because it is very thought evoking regarding the survival of the fittest. I think that the disposal men could also replicate world leaders trying to dispose of something in their endeavour to better the world i.e. Adolf Hitler's ethnic cleansing in order to create the perfect human race. I think that Landy made the disposal men wear red because the colour is often associated with danger, and he could be trying to warn us that this is what society will do to those who's role has been fulfilled and no longer have a use. The white in the room could represent the nothingness or pureness that is left after the work is done. After everyone has fulfilled their main role and been cleared up (including the cleaners) there is nothing left to achieve so there is nothing in the landscape and nothing left in the world. Posters displaying landscape pictures in the room could be an incentive to show the workers what they are working towards, what they are trying to achieve is a perfect world by cleaning away the debris (the people that have no more use). The colour created by the waste people on the floor is dark and that could be an indication of the future that is in store for them when they reach the `vulture'. The men cleaning up are manikins and this could have the meaning (with them fulfilling there role) that whilst you have a role in life you are set to that one thing, not moving to another place or role, they are also much bigger than the people on the floor adding to the insignificance and helplessness of those being disposed of.

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