Friday, June 15, 2007

Falling for Fischli and Weiss

A side trip to Zurich took us to the Peter Fischli and David Weiss retrospective survey Flowers & Questions previously shown at Tate Modern in London. The exhibition was the perfect size; big enough to show range, but small enough to let you enjoy every work without getting exhausted. This magical balance can only be achieved by an incredibly empathetic relationship between the curator and the artist, or in this case artists and video (because you get to sit down for a while). So many shows are just assembled becoming an accumulation of all the works the curator has located, fitted in as best as possible. Of course Fischli and Weiss have another great advantage – humour. Once you get started you don’t want to miss any of the personality, the attitude and the truth, especially in the 60 small sculptured clay scenes which make up a series called Suddenly this overview. The day we were there the place was full of people responding to art that makes you feel smart. How many artists have tackled regional planning and Mr Spock in the same series of works? The artists remade the whole set of small sculptures for Flowers & Questions. As they are not fired we guess they must eventually dry out and crumble back to dust. The critics have been overwhelming in their praise but we witnessed the ultimate accolade. A group of about 40 young school children were watching the short film The way things go. You may have seen it. In a large warehouse the artists set up a series of precisely calculated physical events create a chain reaction sending tires scooting across the floor, liquids dripping into balloons and flames igniting long ribbons of fuse. Each event precipitates the next. When the kids were called to leave by their teacher just before the film ended there was an audible groan. A couple of kids argued the toss and three attempted to hide and see the final few minutes.
Images: People looking at the small clay sculptures in the Suddenly this overview section of the exhibition and one of the unfired clay sculptures Learning from Las Vegas