Peter Fischli and David Weiss Exhibition Coming to Guggenheim : How to Work Better
The unique partnership between Peter Fischli and David Weiss has represented one of the most remarkable long-term artistic collaborations. The 33-year cooperation between the two authors had a profound influence on the way artists and curators saw art in relation to everyday life, according to Jonathan Watkins who worked with the duo in the mid-1990s. Indeed, the duo has managed to produce a body of work that combines, rearranges, or otherwise manipulates our daily experiences into something completely new and unexpected. Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better represents the first comprehensive survey in a New York museum of the artistic duo. With more than 300 sculptures, photographs, slide projections, and videos, the show displays the dynamic artistic relationship between the Swiss artists, focusing on their astonishing oeuvre and their highly influential body of work.
Peter Fischli and David Weiss as Contemporary Alchemists
Fischli and Weiss internally explored the idea of dualistic thinking. What intrigued and inspired them was the Western culture’s reliance on contraries. They developed a witty and profound way to appropriate cultural genres ranging from low-budget Hollywood flicks to art historical tropes and amateur philosophy popular in the self-help books. Essentially, the duo could be regarded as contemporary alchemists, in the sense that they were transforming the ordinary into something utterly fascinating and giving it a completely new meaning and purpose. One of their most obvious masterpieces was The Way Things Go from 1987, which was actually a 30-minute 16mm film that represented a seemingly continuous chain reaction of everyday objects as they clattered through a Zürich warehouse studio. After its debut in the international exhibition of contemporary art in the German town of Kassel, the piece and its creators quickly became a hugely popular success. It even went on to become available for purchase on VHS and then DVD in gallery shops and art bookstores.
Is it True that Traces of Aliens have been Found in Yogurt?
The alter egos of Fischli and Weiss, namely – Rat and Bear, usually appear as equal partners in their various misadventures. The characters of Rat and Bear surface throughout the artists’ works in a variety of forms. In a way, they also symbolize the constant dialogue and debate between the artistic partners. The dichotomy they often explored between fiction and reality, kitsch and beauty, banal and sublime, labor versus leisure, mundane and the extraordinary, can be summed up in the use of their alter egos. However, the authors themselves never really pertained to the authoritative voice of the artist in regards to the artwork, instead they preferred to maintain a philosophical view of someone who ponders all questions, great and small. From the clearly whimsical and perhaps satirical questions like Is it true that traces of aliens have been found in yogurt? to the profound ones like Is everything meaningless? the art duo aimed to confuse, baffle and even enlighten the viewers by redefining the traditional hierarchies and systems of value.
Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better Exhibition at Guggenheim Museum in New York
Organized by Nancy Spector, Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator and Deputy Director, and Nat Trotman, in collaboration with Peter Fischli, the show was initially planned to be held during David Weiss’s lifetime. Unfortunately, only one half of the magnificent duo will have the chance to witness this grand tribute to their timeless work. Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better show will be on view from February 5 – April 20, 2016, at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Fitting into the context of the duo’s unusualness, the display will depart from a traditional retrospective’s chronological format. Instead, the show will highlight compelling connections between different series and underline the conceptual coherence of the artists’ multiform practice. Film and video will be the focal point of the show, alongside of Fischli and Weiss’s extensive oeuvre of photographs, sculptures and installations.
All images courtesy of Guggenheim, New York Featured images: Peter Fischli and David Weiss – RatandBearSleeping; Peter Fischli and David Weiss – The Way Things Go; Peter Fischli and David Weiss – Rat and Bear – TheLeastResistance; Peter Fischli and David Weiss – Animal; Peter Fischli and David Weiss – Airports_Pan Am