Since 1979 Peter Fischli and David Weiss have been collaborating on a body of work that combines, rearranges, or otherwise manipulates their daily experiences into something new and unexpected. In a variety of media, including sculpture, film, and photography, their work playfully ignores the distinction between high and low art. The duo is perhaps best known for the 1987 film The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge), in which an improbable, Rube Goldberg–esque chain of events unfolds involving household objects and detritus in their studio.
Fischli and Weiss won the Golden Lion prize at the 2003 Venice Biennale for Questions, an installation of over 1,000 photographic slides on which existential questions the artists had collected over many years are handwritten. A retrospective of their work was held at Tate Modern (London), in 2006, and traveled to the Kunsthaus (Zurich) and the Deichtorhallen (Hamburg).
The small monochrome photographs in the exhibition—375 displayed on tables, 18 on the walls—were taken a few years ago in fairgrounds and amusement parks. Their intimate scale and sombre tonality turn the banal images into something much more personal, dark, and humourous.
The subjects of the photographs are deeply rooted in vernacular western culture: including mythological scenes, fairy tales, animals, landcapes, and spaceships, they would be unremarkable and commonplace in their original context. In that light, there is something taxonomical about the artists’ use of this material—an approach that is common in their work—which makes the viewer feel that the images are being analysed, examined, and presented with detachment. On the other hand, their dark intimacy, as well as the curious cropping of many of the paintings, seem to return the images to their archetypal roots. The tension in this opposition accounts for much of the impact of the photographs.
Exhibition produced by the LUMA Foundation.