Fischli und Weiss

Zurich, Kunsthaus, Questions and Flowers, 2007

Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss have been collaborating since 1979. Their photographs, sculptures, installations and moving images explore extraordinary transformations of the commonplace through a comic childlike spirit and love of play. The world of everyday objects is in a precarious balance and sometimes comprising an absurd chain of reactions between different objects colliding and setting off explosions. Chance encounters of objects and precariuos balance characterize their series of photographs Equilibres of 1984–87; chain reaction prevails in their film The Way Things Go of 1987. In the case of Fischli & Weiss, gravity may seemingly work in reverse, creating unexpected states of suspension.

Équilibres, photograph, 1984-87

The Maid, from Équilibres series, photograph, 1984-87

Équilibres, photograph, 1984-87

The First Blush of Morning | A New Day Begins, 1985
from the Équilibres series, 1984-87

The Way Things Go, 2009. Fischli and Weiss remove ordinary things from their original context and restructure their relationships in new ways. The artists aim neither to glorify nor to alienate the objects, but merely to create new references in order to be reconsidered. The Way Things Go is a chain reaction, self-destructing performance that includes physical effects and chemical reactions, to suggest a precisely crafted chaos.

Simple Science, from Équilibres series, photograph, 1984-87

The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge), 1987


A faster variation, with a tempo matching the tunes of the overture "William Tell" by Gioachino Rossini. The film by Fischli and Weiss documents a long causal chain assembled of everyday objects. It is in a warehouse, about 100 feet long, and incorporates materials such as tires, trash bags, ladders, soap, oil drums, and gasoline. Fire and pyrotechnics are used as chemical triggers. The original film is nearly 30 minutes long; this one is just 7 minutes long and shows the integrity of the Swiss duo's installation.

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