Fischli and Weiss at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris




Last night I went to the brilliant and rather amusing Fischli and Weiss exhibition “Flowers and Questions” at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris. To say rather amusing is somewhat of an understatement: I spent so much time smiling, if not laughing out loud, that if ever I left one of the exhibition rooms without the corners of my mouth turned up, I was inclined to feel it was a bit boring. In fact I think this happened only once.

This pair of artists play on our perceptions of materials and our sense of scale. One room was filled with jet black objects all apparently made from different materials: a tree trunk, a stone facia for a fireplace, a cutlery rack, a leather pouf. They were all in fact cast in rubber. More unbelievably, in another room which appeared to be an artists work shop filled with tools, rotting food, furniture, cargo pallets, razor blades, cigarette packets etc etc, I was stupefied to find out that every single object had been cast in plastic and then painstakingly painted. We were permitted to pick up a plank of “wood”. It was in fact a plank of plastic that seemed to float up with no effort. This illusionary game played with materials made apparently everyday objects unusually tactile.

In front of two video projections is where I spent most of my time. One was the ultimate childhood dream. It showed footage of one of those chain reaction sequences that kids dream of but apparently only grown ups get to build. Something falls over, it tips something else, a bowling ball rolls down a spiral etc. Only in this system, it wasn’t a ball that was kept moving, but a flame. Paraffin flows, and catches fire, balloons burst fireworks rocket up tubes and set off detonators, fire extinguisher foam dissolves blocks of sugar cube that support a vat of chemicals on the point of tipping over and so on and so on.

From the sublime to the ridiculous in the second video. A nature video but with our two heroes in a panda and mouse suit living out their animal existence.

In fact, I loved it so much that I am going to go back.

Showing in Paris until 13th May.

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  1. It was on while I was in Paris – I said to you that I had seen it in London, remember? It’s funny because we watched The Way Things Go (the chain reaction film) on my Foundation course and it really influenced my thought process. Then, on the MA, I was thinking about my work now and I remembered about theses guys who I never heard of again since Foundation so I re-discovered them and wrote about them alot in my essays. Then suddenly just as my course finished, the big retrospective came on at the Tate and suddenly everyone was talking about them again. A bit annoying really as I saw them as ‘my’ artists! Also do you remember the Honda advert with the chain reaction? Well the makers stole the idea from their film. argh.

  2. I am sorry – I forgot that you had been. But you can forgive me for thinking that you hadn’t given the number of abortive attempts you made! So I was wondering if the Honda ad was taken from this installation. The ad is nothing on this though. there is just something about how everything is so used and dirty ugly that makes the whole thing so attractive. Where as in the advert, all the pieces are precision milled; the viewer is hardly surprised that system works. In the exhibition, it seems impossible that such a hotch-potch arrangement of objects can pull off such precise movements. I think that the ad goes with the tag “maker of dreams” but my dream isn’t a car, it is of a garage full of chemicals and scraps of metal that I can manipulate and mess up as I please.
    When you went, do you remember laughing?

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