The Way Things Go
Fischli & Weiss
August 2 - September 16, 2007
The Gallery will show Fischli & Weiss’ award winning 1987 postmodern masterpiece The Way Things Go which follows a perpetual-motion machine made of simple objects such as string, soap, Styrofoam cups, rubber tires, step ladders, plastic pails and balloons. When combined with fire, gas and gravity, these objects form a chain of kinetic energy that hypnotizes us with its chaotic potential.
Since the late 1970s, Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss have captivated audiences with their extraordinary depictions of the commonplace. It was their work on Quiet Afternoon (1984/85), a series of photographs of everyday objects teetering on the brink of collapse, that gave them the idea for this film. The plan was that the threaten structures should actually be allowed to collapse and the resulting energy should be used for an artistic relay race of objects. The first version was Sketch for The Way Things Go, a three-minute film loop in which key sequences of the later 30-minute film are outlined and tested.
Inside a warehouse Fischli & Weiss created a precarious 100-foot-long, self-destroying kinetic sculpture as an experimental artistic set-up for a scripted, controlled performance where nothing may happen too late or too soon. Everything happens only when it can happen and nothing can stop it. The film camera is audience and witness to this epic tour-de-force of effect and counter-effect: a rotating garbage bag touches a tire, which rolls down an inclined plane and bangs into a plank, which forces a stepladder to descend until it trips: the domino effect continues until inflammable foam goes up in smoke as it spills over the lip of a tray.
The Way Things Go is a thrill of rolling, burning, toppling, exploding and melting things shot in (almost) one take. There is no sound in the film other than the hilarious whirring, clanking, fizzing, and groaning of the mechanical beast at work. The film brings about a story concerning work and play, order and chaos, mundane and sublime, inevitability and chance, improbability and precision.