Peter Fischli and David Weiss: The Way Things Go

Peter Fischli and David Weiss, The Way Things Go, 1987, color video, transferred from 16 mm film, with sound, 30 min, Museum purchase, 2014.7.1
Friday, August 28 – Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Way Things Go
Peter Fischli (Swiss, b. 1952) and David Weiss (Swiss, 1946–2012)
Film Projection

This exhibition consists of a 30 minute long art film by the Swiss artist duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss. While working on another project, the artists became fascinated with chain reactions and states of impending collapse. In this much-imitated film, common inanimate objects come to life by lighting each other on fire, creating chemical reactions, rolling, spilling, inflating, wobbling and careening off one another.

Evoking Rube Goldberg’s humorous illustrations of complex mechanical contraptions that performed simple tasks, The Way Things Go is slapstick and thought-provoking. The film embodies order and disorder, exists between impressive engineering and a precariousness teetering on total collapse, and increasingly engages the viewer with each action and activity. Fischli and Weiss’ chain reaction is part the manifestation of childlike wonder combined with a post-apocalyptic air that continues to be relevant more than three decades since its creation, especially at a time when the virus COVID-19 is unpredictably careening across the globe.

About the artists: From 1979 to 2012, Peter Fischli and David Weiss were an artistic duo that explored the poetics of everyday life with a distinctive and refreshing wit. Indebted to Dada, Surrealism, Pop Art, and Conceptual art, their work employed humble materials and referenced ordinary subjects.

More on the artists:
Guggenheim Museum, Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better, February 5 – April 27, 2016
Tate Modern, Flowers and Questions, A Retrospective, October 11, 2006 – January 14, 2007
Ken Johnson, Peter Fischli and David Weiss Playfully Poke High-Culture Pieties, New York Times, February 4, 2016
Nancy Princenthal, The indiscreet charm of Fischli and Weiss, Art in America, March 24, 2016

“a masterpiece”, Ken Johnson, The New York Times

Public screening courtesy of Icarus Films