“Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better”

ArticleClaire Bishop at Artforum:

Part of what makes “Suddenly This Overview” so wonderful is the image it conjures of two artists beavering away in the studio, each interpreting a list of topics in a way that would tickle the other’s fancy. The pair’s very first collaboration, “Sausage Series,” 1979, also gives this impression—it is a group of photographs in which various forms of Germanic processed meat, along with other foodstuffs and household objects, are arranged to create ambitious diorama-like landscapes in the confines of an unremarkable apartment. This sense of relentless indoor tinkering is fully fledged in the elaborate garage setup of the artists’ much-loved, much-copied video The Way Things Go, 1987: a mesmeric chain reaction of objects set into motion via spillages and explosions, its cobbled-together devices constantly on the brink of failure. The video took two years to make and is gloriously self-sufficient; it’s also one of the earliest and only works of video art to be commercially accessible to the public (currently $14.99 on iTunes). These works position Fischli and Weiss in a lineage of artists who thrive in the studio, but instead of making work about not knowing what to make, as Bruce Nauman did so poignantly in 1969, the duo seem unburdened by time or the pressure to produce meaning. The Way Things Go is a labor of love whose obsessiveness is immediately recognized by viewers, who are often unable to tear themselves away (hence the unusual decision to install the work twice).

At the end of the exhibition, in the Tower Gallery, is the black-and-white (and possibly too-cute) installationQuestions, 2000–2003, which flashes hundreds of polyglot queries across the wall. I would have rather seen this space used to present Visible World, 1986–2012, in its best-known format of three thousand photographs on a seventy-two-foot-long table, rather than half-buried on three modest plasma screens halfway up the ramp. While the work was first seen as a slide show on late-night television in Germany (during Documenta 10), the present installation is a little too close to a screen saver, losing the sense of information overload that arises from topographic sprawl.

more here.