No. 45
April 5, 1996
Immediate Release

Karen Gysin (612) 375-7651



Since the late 1970s, Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss have participated in a collaborative art practice that engages the most humble of everyday objects in a display of spectacle and bravura. Their presentations of the commonplace, which take a wide variety of forms in sculpture, photography, film, video, and installation art, create a dialogue between opposites--order and chaos, work and play, the mundane and the sublime. The Walker Art Center-organized exhibition Peter Fischli and David Weiss: In a Restless World brings together key pieces from the artists' collaboration, tracing their highly entertaining and simultaneously disquieting body of work over the past 15 years. It will premiere in Minneapolis May 5-August 11, before traveling to Philadelphia, Columbus, San Francisco, Boston, and Wolfsburg, Germany.

Related programming planned in conjunction with the exhibition includes an opening-weekend lecture focusing on the qualities of play and leisurely adventure in the artists' work by Bice Curiger, editor-in-chief of Parkett magazine and adjunct curator at the Kunsthaus, Zürich (May 4); two evenings of eccentric, comedic avant-theater by the Warsaw troupe Akademia Ruchu (May 16 and 18); a film series inspired by the artists' work (May 7, 14, 21); and a Free First Saturday program (May 4).

The Walker's exhibition, curated by Elizabeth Armstrong, will give full play to the artists' concerns, presenting works from their earliest collaboration, the photographic series Wurstserie (Sausage Series), 1979, to a version of their most recent video installation from the 1995 Venice Biennale, an international exhibition of contemporary art in which the artists were chosen to represent Switzerland. The artists' preoccupation with the objects of everyday life--and their ironic manipulations of these objects--will connect the diverse bodies of work in this exhibition. Works selected include: Plötzlich diese Übersicht (Suddenly This Overview), 1981, a group of small sculptures made out of the preferred materials of young schoolchildren--unfired clay; Fragentopf (Question Pot), 1984, a monumental, simulated-ceramic pot that is filled with hand-scrawled questions, ranging from the utterly pedestrian to the most profound; and Stiller Nachmittag (Quiet Afternoon), 1984-1985, a series of photographs in which assemblages of banal objects teeter on the verge of collapse. These photographs were something of a dress rehearsal for Fischli and Weiss' acclaimed 1987 film, Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), which will also be featured in the exhibition. In this dreamlike sequence of kinetic images, the artists concoct a secret life for such common objects as string, soap, Styrofoam cups, rubber tires, plastic pails, balloons, and mattresses, which, in combination with fire, gas, and gravity, set off a domino-like chain reaction that unfurls in a seemingly endless and mesmerizing progression of controlled chaos.

From Fischli and Weiss' work made in the 1990s, the exhibition will include their recent trompe l'oeil sculptures, many of which resemble the real objects used in the film The Way Things Go, installed as if they are part of the site. These sculptures reproduce the banal disarray of the workaday world--for instance, a custodian's closet or an artist's studio table--surprising visitors with an unexpected glimpse of the most mundane aspects of everyday working life in a museum. Among other works, two "moving images" will be shown: Le rayon vert (The Green Light), 1990, a kinetic sculpture made from the simplest of elements--a plastic cup that spins in a mixing bowl around a lighted flashlight casting patterns onto the wall--to create a mini-spectacle; and Kanal Video (Canal Video), 1992, a work that extends the idea of the readymade into the realm of videotape. This work transforms existing footage of the sewage pipes of Zürich into a hypnotizing voyage of color and light. Humble in its origins yet dazzling in its effects, this video epitomizes the way in which the artists' work continually straddles the line between the sublime and the mundane.

Finally, the exhibition will include a new version of the artists' acclaimed video installation for the 1995 Venice Biennale, a smorgasbord of videotapes that reflects their predilection for the inconspicuous wonders of everyday life. Subjects include the chef at work in their local restaurant, the annual motorcross races in Zürich, and workers from the local sanitation department. The images in the installation, which consists of 10 monitors running over 80 hours of videotape, have been described by Bice Curiger as "so inordinately ordinary that they are jarring, unsettling, and seem vaguely out of place."

Peter Fischli and David Weiss: In a Restless World will be accompanied by a 128-page illustrated catalogue, which includes a photographic section designed by the artists and essays by Armstrong and philosophers Arthur Danto and Boris Groys. D.A.P./ Distributed Art Publishers in New York will distribute the catalogue, which is the first comprehensive publication of the artists' work in English. It will be available in the Walker Art Center Shops. Softcover, $19.95 ($14.97 Walker members).

Following its presentation in Minneapolis, the exhibition will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (November 8, 1996-January 17, 1997); The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (February 8-April 13, 1997); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (May 29-August 31, 1997); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (October 8, 1997-January 4, 1998); and the Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg (February 7- May 3, 1998).

Support for Peter Fischli and David Weiss: In a Restless World is provided by PRO HELVETIA Arts Council of Switzerland, the National Endowment for the Arts, Lannan Foundation, and Samsung Electronics America, Inc. Major support for Walker Art Center programs is provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, The Bush Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Target Stores, Dayton's, and Mervyn's by the Dayton Hudson Foundation, the Northwest Area Foundation, the General Mills Foundation, the Institute of Museum Services, Burnet Realty, the American Express Minnesota Philanthropic Program, the Honeywell Foundation, Northwest Airlines, Inc., The Regis Foundation, The St. Paul Companies, Inc., the 3M Foundation, and the members of the Walker Art Center.

Peter Fischli and David Weiss: In a Restless World
Related Events

Bice Curiger: Art Is Full of Suburbs and So Is Life

Saturday, May 4, 4 pm
Walker Auditorium
$5 ($4)
Bice Curiger, editor-in-chief of Parkett magazine and adjunct curator at the Kunsthaus, Zürich, discusses the artists' work since the 1970s. Her talk focuses on the qualities of play and leisurely adventure in their work, as well as their attraction to banality and an aesthetic of the everyday.

At Work and Play: Films for Fischli and Weiss

Tuesdays, May 7, 14, 21
Walker Lecture Room
$5 ($4)
The Ruben Cinematheque's spring season opens with a film series inspired by the collaborative work of Fischli and Weiss.

Tuesday, May 7
Swiss Miss
7 pm
Directed by John G. Blystone, this classic Laurel and Hardy feature is set in a Swiss resort, with the comic duo cast as traveling mousetrap salesmen, whose hilarious antics are ingeniously adapted to Alpine settings. 1938, US, 84 minutes.
8:30 pm
This modern melodrama is set in the fictional Alpine village of Tolzbad, where inhabitants speak in whispers and are taught from childhood the titled imperative, "Careful!" Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin has vividly recreated the look and deliberately scratchy sound of an early "talkie." 1992, Canada, 100 minutes.

Tuesday, May 14
Freedom For Us (A Nous la Liberté")
7 pm
One of the greatest comedies in French cinema and the inspiration for Chaplin's critique of automation in Modern Times, director René Clair's A Nous la Liberté follows the fortunes of two convicts, one who escapes prison and becomes a wealthy industrialist and another who unknowingly becomes a worker in his friend's factory. 1931, France, 87 minutes.
The Right Way (Der Rechte Weg)
8:30 pm
Directors Fischli and Weiss assume the characters Rat and Bear in this picaresque tale about two unlikely traveling companions who swim underground rivers, tumble down waterfalls, and traverse Alpine slopes in their attempts to find the right way. 1983, Switzerland, 55 minutes.

Tuesday, May 21
Arbeiten 1993-94
7 pm
A contemporary of Fischli and Weiss, the Swiss artist Roman Signer has transformed small-scale catastrophes into an art form through his continuing series of destruction pieces and actions. 1995, Switzerland, 39 minutes. Preceded by Charlie Chaplin's Behind the Screen, a satire on the foibles of early filmmaking, with Chaplin serving as a bumbling prop man in a Keystone-like movie studio. 1916, US, 20 minutes.
8 pm
Actor-director Jacques Tati's masterpiece is an unsparing satiric portrayal of the contemporary metropolis as an architectural fashion victim. Reprising his comic role of M. Hulot, Tati casts himself as a stranger in the antiseptic environs of the modern world. 1967, France, 108 minutes.

Avant-Theater From Poland

Akademia Ruchu
Thursday and Saturday, May 16 and 18
7 pm
Walker Art Center
$12 ($10)
Warsaw's Akademia Ruchu presents two nights of outdoor and indoor eccentric, on-the-edge performance pieces. Each evening begins with Spiritual Feast. A quiet country picnic turns into a fantastical street action in this humorous blend of Rube Goldberg-style gadgetry and elements from the rich legacy of Polish avant-garde theater. The players combine ironic conversation with an array of props, including a runaway car, which they manipulate with strings and pulleys to startling effect. This adventure is followed by light hors d'oeuvres and beverages and a special screening of Fischli and Weiss' film The Way Things Go in the Walker lobby. Each evening concludes with a performance of Akademia Ruchu's Song, a stunning mixture of surreal drama, everyday movement, and minimalist visual imagery.

Akademia Ruchu's engagement is made possible in part with funds from the Trust for Mutual Understanding and Arts International.

Family Programs
Free First Saturdays are for Families!

Real Play
Saturday, May 4, 11 am-4 pm
Discover the inventive ways everyday objects such as buckets, shoes, sugar cubes, and tires are made into art when you visit the exhibition Peter Fischli and David Weiss: In a Restless World. Enjoy a musical performance, a film program, and an art activity all of which make curious use of the commonplace. Activities are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Performance: Zeitgeist, 11 am
Walker Auditorium
In this musical adventure, Zeitgeist ensemble members and guest musician Jerome Kitzke invent sounds with their hands, tin cans, and a toy piano. 45 minutes.

Drop-In Art Activity: Serious Fun, 12 noon-4 pm
Walker Outer Lobby
Stack and balance everyday things to make playful sculptures. Led by Keith Braafladt.

Film Program: Animated Everyday Stuff
12 noon, Walker Auditorium
2 pm, Walker Lecture Room
Three short films celebrate transformation and invention. Go on a sea journey with Captain Silas, travel with the clay figures in Whazzat?, and watch as an English inventor and his dog battle mischief making mechanical slacks in The Wrong Trousers, a film by Academy Award-winning director Nick Park. Note: The 12 noon Auditorium screening will feature a 35mm print of The Wrong Trousers from Aardman Animations, Bristol England. Program length approximately 60 minutes.

Gallery Tour for Families: Fischli and Weiss, 12 noon, 1 pm, and 2 pm
Students from Clara Barton School lead families in a tour of the exhibition Peter Fischli and David Weiss: In A Restless World.

Gallery Tour: Ordinary Objects in the Permanent Collection, 2 pm
Meet in the outer lobby.
Tour Galleries 4, 5, and 6 to learn about ways artists use commonplace objects in their work.

Free First Saturdays are made possible by Burnet Realty. Saturday family programming is made possible by the Northwest Area Foundation, Dayton's, the Medtronic Foundation, the US WEST Foundation, and the National Council of Jewish Women, St. Paul Section.

Artwork of the Month
The May Artwork of the Month is Wurstserie (Sausage Series) by Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Pick up a free family activity guide about this artwork in the gallery or at the Walker lobby desk.

The Walker Art Center is located one block off Highway I-94 at the corner of Lyndale Avenue South and Vineland Place in Minneapolis. For public information, call (612) 375-7622; TDD: 375-7585. Gallery hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm; Thursday, 10 am - 8 pm; Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm; closed Monday; free Thursday and the first Saturday of each month. (Free First Saturdays are made possible by Burnet Realty.)