PETER FISCHLI / DAVID WEISS 'Objects on Pedestals'
30 January - 28 February 2009
Sprüth Magers London is delighted to present 'Objects on Pedestals', a survey of sculpture works by acclaimed Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. The exhibition includes a selection from the series 'Rubber Sculptures' (1986 - 1988), which comprises a number of life-size black rubber casts of ordinary and commonplace objects, including a chest of drawers, a table, a candle and a cutlery tray. The exhibition also features a number of sculptures, all made in 2007 in unfired clay, which also depict normal and quotidian objects, such as a shoe or a jug, although on an exaggerated scale. Together, these two bodies of work reveal the artists' ongoing fascination with the banal and absurd qualities of the everyday, and the materiality and tactility of mass consumption.
Infused with Fischli & Weiss's characteristic wit and knowing irony, 'Rubber Sculptures' and the clay sculptures prompt intriguing questions about the form and function of the objects that facilitate modern living. The heavy black vulcanite rubber invokes a range of associations which sits at odds with the practical uses of the objects assembled, requiring the viewer to look askance at the everyday things that are on view. Industrial, durable, even kinky, the black rubber material gives the forms of these mundane items a disconcerting and fetishised quality, as plain and commonplace things bounce and bend in a way which ill suits their function or purpose, and are installed and scrutinised in the gallery space. As the objects are divested of any recognised utility, they become charged with an aesthetic and sensory resonance which, both through the anonymising effect of the black colouration, and the simultaneously seductive and repulsive tactile quality of the rubber, presents a disquieting and intriguing image of the domestic world.
The clay sculptures also featured in the exhibition similarly invite the viewer to re-examine the material culture of contemporary life. Like 'Rubber Sculptures', the material used to create the sculptures assembled offers the opportunity for an ironic gaze at the objects represented. By recreating out of delicate, fragile and crumbling clay a number of objects, such as an axe or a chain, which demand to be robust and resilient in order to be of any use, the items on view again establish a purely formal relationship with the viewer. The artists' practice of elevating useless objects into art is further heightened by the exaggerated scale of the sculptures. A clay shoe 52 cm in length cannot be worn, but can be venerated in a gallery context, as an icon of everyday life.
'Rubber Sculptures' and the clay sculptures build on a number of earlier works by Fischli & Weiss which exploited and explored the unnerving and amusing effects of using materials in incongruous ways. Their earliest collaboration, 'Wurstserie' (1979), comprised a series of photographs featuring dramatic, funny and distressing scenarios played out by sausages, cigarette butts and other sundries. These sculptures also exemplify the ethnographic scrutiny of the everyday that has animated the practice of Fischli and Weiss, in a wide array of different media, for almost three decades. From 'Sichtbare Welt' (1987-2000), their monumental archive of nearly 3,000 photographs of commonly observed objects and scenes, to their most recent work, a comprehensive and endlessly suggestive collection of 800 print advertisements entitled 'Sonne, Mond und Sterne', which is on view at Sprüth Magers Berlin until 31 January 2009, the art of Fischli and Weiss has continually been exercised by the myriad meanings that might be located in the ordinary world around us.
Both born in Zürich, Peter Fischli (1952) and David Weiss (1946) met in 1977 and began their artistic collaboration shortly after, in 1979. Their artwork has been the subject of many prominent solo exhibitions around the world including recent retrospectives at the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2008), Kunsthaus, Zürich (2007) and Tate Modern, London (2006). In 2003, they represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale for the third time.