Michael Landy – Acts of Kindness
Acts of kindness on the London Underground often extend no further than someone inadvertently holding the train door open with their head as they teeter on the edge of a crammed carriage. The Metro, the Evening Standard and various books and magazines of choice provide the perfect hiding devices for us to avoid accidental eye contact with our fellow commuters. Heaven forbid that people actually communicate with each other on their way to and from work.
Perhaps this is what inspired London-based artist Michael Landy (below) to create his Acts of Kindness art project, which launched on the Central line this week as part of the Central Line Series. The project celebrates simple acts of generosity and kindness that happen everyday on the Tube that would otherwise go unnoticed and undocumented.
And these random acts of niceness can take all forms. One story describes how, one morning on the Jubilee Line, a woman leaned over to remove a small amount of shaving foam a man had somehow left on his ear.
Landy, the same artist who destroyed all of his possessions for the Art Bin at the South London Gallery in 2001, started the project by inviting travellers and staff on the Underground to submit their stories on the TfL website.
Landy then created posters of his favourite stories and put them up at Underground stations along the Central line.
Another endearing tale goes as follows: “On a Friday night I boarded the train dressed up ready to go out and thinking I looked the bee’s knees. A woman came up to me, and very kindly, and quietly, told me I had my skirt tucked into my knickers.”
Speaking to Londonist.com, Landy describes Acts of Kindness as “A gesture of trust between two people.”
“[But] There’s a risk in that. They may just ignore you or take it the wrong way. I’m fascinated by when you see people prepared to give up something for somebody they don’t know. I think sometimes it’s easier to remember those times when people have been unkind. But once you start to notice kindness you see it happening more and more.”
Liverpool Street, St Paul’s and Holborn have already been used as galleries for his work.
Look out for more Acts of Kindness appearing at Holland Park, Hangar Lane and Leyton.
You can read all of the Acts of Kindness stories by visiting http://art.tfl.gov.uk/actsofkindness/readstories
– Dan Jones