Arts Council England Pay Artists To Burn Their Work

Michael Landy’s Art Bin trumped by The Manchester Art Bonfire

We all remember Michael Landy’s ‘Art Bin’ constructed in 2010, where artists were encouraged to throw away unloved works of art. Well now the Arts Council has allocated £3,000 of National Lottery money for the second Manchester Art Bonfire. Last year’s event was supported by Castlefield Gallery’s Project Space. This is a really special event in which a plethora of artists and creators based in Greater Manchester come together in mourning, celebrating and discussing their work. As the artists offer their creations to the fire they explain the reasons for burning their work and/or provide a reaction to the symbolic act of burning art. The event is open to all, to be witnessed by all.

Artists are invited to make their ‘pledge’ to the bonfire by nominating a piece of their own work accompanied by a piece of writing (or other output i.e. audio) related to why they are burning it and/or reacting to the act of burning art. This information is collected and shared via an online project space and will provide the context for burning. On the night artists take to the centre to burn their art and have the opportunity to say something important to them, their practice, their art world or community. The second Manchester Artists’ Bonfire is taking place later and will see some 30 artists incinerate their creations.

This is an event for artists by artists, however you identify with the word, all are welcome to attend. In the absence of our art we will rethink our relationships to it and to each other at a time when the country is re evaluating art in economic terms. Each artist has equal stake in the collective outcome and the discussion that is generated by each burning. Artists take to the centre to burn their art and have the opportunity to say something important to them, their practice, their art world or community. The Artists’ Bonfire is unapologetic about the more obvious connotations such as; strike, destruction and renewal but it is also open to new interpretations, be they political or personal or both. All viewpoints are encouraged as part of the discussion including those opposed to burning art.

In 2011 the artists were burning art during times of heightened discussion surrounding new coalition policies resulting in cuts to public services, arts and education. Student protests were fresh in our collective consciousness- protest, dissatisfaction and viral campaigns saw the masses mobilised. In 2012 they will burn whilst occupations and riots are spreading around the globe, the effects of cuts made to the NHS have seen vital services axed, masses of jobs continue to be lost, our youth riot on the streets, our creative resources shrink in place of capitalistic priorities. We   see a solidarity of the 99% and a questioning of the uber wealthy 1%
Organisers said it was “a research project into art and activism” that allowed local artists to collaborate and to discuss art in a direct way. Arts Council England said the project would support emerging talent and stimulate debate.