Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss have been known throughout their prodigious careers for their sculpture, photography, and videos that present common objects and quotidian scenes in inventive and surprising ways. Disregarding distinctions between high and low art, Fischli and Weiss’s work never fails to surprise the viewer with its arrestingly flat, straightforward humor and the simplicity of their gestures. The two artists worked together for over 30 years, pursuing a defiantly unhurried and unassuming body of work that resists superlative or boastful claims.
High Line Art presents Fischli and Weiss’s iconic 1987 video The Way Things Go, a work that, in the almost 30 years since its making, has been one of the most frequently screened works of video art seen in museums around the world. For a full half hour, the video follows a series of Rube Goldberg-esque objects and constructions as they activate one another in a painstaking, yet mesmerizing, sequence of quixotic events, which range from rolling tires, to flaming puddles of slowly leaking liquid, to balloons bursting with foaming soap. The captivating DIY experiment staged in their Zürich studio highlights the artists’ wholly analog enterprise, one unaided by digital technologies of any kind.
Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), 1987. DVD, 30 minutes. © Peter Fischli and the Estate of David Weiss. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.