Sprüth Magers is pleased to present HAUS, a solo exhibition by Fischli Weiss, the Swiss artist duo known since the 1980s for their films including Der geringste Widerstand (The Least Resistance) and ambiguous sculptural everyday objects.
At the core of this new exhibition is Haus (House), a work Peter Fischli and David Weiss first developed for Skulptur Projekte Münster in 1987 and subsequently showed in exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, New York and Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2016). An aluminium version of the work was permanently installed in Zurich last year. This exhibition is the first to focus on the architectural reference system at the heart of the artists’ work with a selection of sculptures, photographs, and archival material.
Haus was preceded by a model-like sculpture with the same form that took aspects of the sketch and model as its subject matter. The artists continued to develop their interest in everyday architecture and brought the sculpture back to the public sphere for Münster. Nestled in an unpretentious area far from the usual tourist attractions, passersby heading to work identified it as an artwork through its 1:5 scale. The miniaturised building reflected its immediate surroundings and the functional architectures and activities typical to this public place including work, infrastructure and productivity. Its generic character derives from late modernist architectural form and the resulting aura of the everyday. The version of Haus in the Berlin exhibition is the wooden mould used for the aluminium casting of the outdoor sculpture in Zurich, consequently combining the model character of the sculpture with the idea of monumentality. The building represents the last moment of modernism, where utopian-positivist ideas drifted into the pragmatic and ultimately the commonplace. This strangely melancholic moment is compacted in this replica office complex’s unusual scale, which is simultaneously too large for a model and too small for a building.
The architecture-akin issues of everyday life and its representations also come through in the 1991 series 'Agglomerationen/Siedlungen' (Agglomerations/Settlements), a compilation of photographs showing late modernist settlements. For all the obvious exoticism of the shots, the idealised photographs of post-war architecture do not overcome the desolation and enduring banality of the motifs but rather exaggerate them with 'architectural portraits' of these suburbs taken in different seasons. The contradiction between the ambiguity of harmony and prosperity and their often problematic socio-structural complexity touches on a key point of the artists’ interest in the topic: the paradoxical and fragile as a possible version of the visible.
These two complexes of works are accompanied by sculptures made of black rubber and unfired clay exploring the instability of concepts: a model-like bungalow made of light-absorbing black rubber–in lieu of the dogmatic white usually found in modernist buildings–, or a settlement made of unfired clay, a material that exudes both transience and fragility, casting doubt on its own claim. Further sculptures including the small corner (2012), brick (2005), or wall (1986) either draw concrete reference to architecture or, as with the seat cushion (1987) and slab (1988), take up more abstract aspects of the interior or everyday residential living.
Finally, archival material related the Haus complex of works, summarised in the recently produced artist’s book on the same, offers comprehensive insight into this specific aspect of Fischli Weiss’s œuvre.
The works of Peter Fischli (*1952) and David Weiss (1946–2012) have been exhibited at numerous biennials, including the Venice Biennale (2013, 2003, 1988), the Venice Biennale of Architecture (2012) and the Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2010). Major solo exhibitions include the comprehensive retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York and Museo Jumex, Mexico City (2016), as well as at the Tate Modern London (2006), Kunsthaus Zürich (2007) and Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2008). In 2003 they were awarded the Golden Lion at the 50th Venice Biennale for their multimedia installation Fragenprojektion (Questions, 1981–2002). The artists were invited to participate in documenta X in 1997, and their film Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go, 1987) was shown at documenta VIII in 1987. Their work has more recently been presented in solo exhibitions at the Aspen Museum of Art (2017), The Art Institute of Chicago (2017), the Glenstone Collection, Potomac (2012), the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2010), Sammlung Goetz, Munich (2010), and in numerous group exhibitions.
Press release courtesy Sprüth Magers.