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Equilibres by Fischli & Weiss
Equilibres by Fischli & Weiss.

LONDON, ENGLAND.- During the Frieze Art Fair and on the occasion of the opening of the retrospective of Peter Fischli and David Weiss at the Tate Modern, Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers present in their new London space the photo work EQUILIBRES by Fischli & Weiss.

Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers have been working with Peter Fischli and David Weiss since the early 1980s. Most recently in London in 2003, they presented the exhibition AN UNSETTLED WORK comprising slide projections and sculptures.

Peter Fischli (b. 1952) and David Weiss (b. 1946) became internationally known through their film DER LAUF DER DINGE (THE WAY THINGS GO) which was shown at the documenta in Kassel in 1987. In their work they employ a wide variety of artistic means of _expression, ranging from film, photography and artists’ books to sculptures from various materials and multimedia installations. They adapt everyday objects and situations which they place – not without humour or irony – in an artistic context, thus raising philosophical and theoretical questions regarding the explanation of the world. Fischli & Weiss have represented Switzerland in numerous international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale where they participated several times and were awarded the Golden Lion in 2003. Both live and work in Zurich.

The photo works of EQUILIBRES were created in the years 1984/85. It is a series of black-and-white and colour photographs showing assemblages of everyday objects. A smaller selection was presented for the first time in 1985 in the exhibition STILLER NACHMITTAG (QUIET AFTERNOON) at the Cologne gallery of Monika Sprüth, at the Kunsthalle Basel and at the Groningen Museum, accompanied by the artists’ book of the same title. Precarious and often on the verge of collapse, the photographs with their suggestive titles are reminiscent of thought experiments or experiments in form and evoke the familiar Surrealist image of the “chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissection table” (Lautréamont). The titles alternately function as accurate summaries of the sculptural situation, as in the case of the Schlummerschlinge (slumber snare) made of wood and a hose, as humorous suggestions, or as anecdotic descriptions. In their new EQUILIBRES artists’ book, Fischli & Weiss have often assigned different titles to one and the same motif. ‘Die Magd’ (The Maid) and ‘Der Schwindel’ (Vertigo), ‘Der Warenhauskönig’ (The Warehouse King) and ‘Ein böser Traum’ (A Bad Dream), and ‘Ehre, Mut und Zuversicht’ (Honour, Courage, Confidence) and ‘Die Vollendung’ (Perfection) lead an alternate coexistence in black-and-white and in colour. They present different possibilities of the thought and finger exercises in the creation of the ‘Equilibres’ while at the same time raising the question of suggestion and representation.

In the case of the sculptures, which were photographed in a moment of well-balanced standstill, the size of the heterogeneous components or whether they were arranged expansively or in miniature is irrelevant. The attention is drawn to an almost unthinkable and dizzying construction, with gravity seemingly working in reverse, creating a state of suspension which cancels the weight and the value of the individual components.

This is also summarized in the subheading of the ‘Equilibres’ of Fischli & Weiss: ‘Am schönsten ist das Gleichgewicht, kurz bevor’s zusammenbricht.’ (Balance is most beautiful just shortly before it collapses.) The sculptures only exist in the small-format photographs which will be shown in London for the first time. As photographs, the often elaborate and expansive sculptures acquire an incidental quality which makes the test assembly of an uneventful afternoon and the momentary construction both more real and more transient. Ultimately, the only evidence of the standstill is the photographs.

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