Peter Fischli & David Weiss: In a Restless World

Miracles interrupt the natural course of things, seeming to contradict the cosmic stories of which science is composed. A counterbalance to the rectitude of fact and the linearity of equations, miracles are the "big bang" result of faith. Despite the magnitude of such disequilibrium, the work of miracle makers often is disclosed through legible and empathetic acts that restore something crucial such as the loss of sight of physical momentum. 

The Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss make secular miracles that return us to our senses. For fifteen years they have conspired collaboratively, blurring their respective identities and contributions as if to suggest that none of us are singular or sufficient. What we see first is something made together, something so seemingly simple that it may make us smile, an act of recognition that stresses the connection of one to another. We stop before and see the wonders often missed in our hurry to proceed through modern life. For a moment we regain something akin to the generic structure of life, something essential yet small.

The intimacy and (misleading) simplicity of their work raises compelling questions about the relationship between making art and constructing a life of meaning. The studied innocence of their craft and imagery is a decoy, slowly luring the viewer below the placid surface of the familiar. While the purest definition of innocence is without gradation and devoid of evil, these two artists are self-conscious enough to recognize what any parent will report: the seeming innocence of a child's play often suggests disturbances that cannot safely or easily be brought to the surface. While the subjects of Fischli and Weiss's sculptures, photographs, installations, films, and videos could not be more transparent - a bowl of peanuts, a precariously balanced tower of functional objects, a janitor's closet - things are not what they first appear. 

In realizing this publication - the first in English to provide a global view of Fischli and Weiss's extraordinary world - the Walker Art Center collaborated with the Serpentine Gallery, which presented its own exhibition of the artists' work in the summer of 1996. The pleasure of working together is most evident in our ability to publish a catalogue of ambition, which includes the visual compendium the artists designed for the front section of this book. We are grateful for this opportunity to pause, reflect, and celebrate the miracles of everyday life. 

  • Walker Art Center, 1996
  • Paperback, 6.75 x 8.75 inches
  • 129 pages, color and black & white imagery 

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