Monday, 13 May 2013

Peter Fischli and David Weiss - Suddenly this Overview

The Russians Send the First Rocket into Space from Suddenly this Overview, 1981-2006

Peter Fischli (born 8 June 1952) and David Weiss (21 June 1946 – 27 April 2012), often shortened to Fischli/Weiss, were an artist duo that had been collaborating since 1979. They were among the most renowned contemporary artists of Switzerland.

Suddenly this Overview (1981) is a collection of unfired clay sculptures imaginatively recreating various events in human history. The figures range from those rendered in meticulous detail, to coarse, sketch-like pieces. As is implied by "The World We Live In" – the title originally envisaged for the work – this panorama of interwoven happenings in the world arising out of the artists' subjective viewpoint, with its assembly of events both large and small, questions what it means to be alive. First unveiled in 1981 as an installation consisting of around 200 objects, a new version comprising about 90 was presented in 2006.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Fischli_%26_David_Weiss

Herr and Frau Einstein shortly after the conception of their son, the genius Albert from Suddenly this Overview, 1981-2006

Suddenly this Overview 1981/2006 presents its own microscopic model of the world, consisting of dozens of hand-modelled unfired clay sculptures. As Weiss has explained, ‘The intention was to accumulate various important and unimportant events in the history of mankind, and of the planet – moments in the fields of technology, fairy tales, civilization, film, sports, commerce, education, sex, biblical history, nature and entertainment.’ The scenes they selected include Herr and Frau Einstein shortly after the conception of their son, the genius Albert, and Mick Jagger and Brian Jones going home satisfied after composing ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’. Other works in the series include everyday items such as a loaf of bread, a teaset and a pot – an early example of the artists’ fascination with the ordinary. A third category portray what the artists refer to as ‘Popular Opposites’, such as work and play, theory and practice, high and low, big and small. According to Fischli, ‘the viewer cannot simultaneously take all the sculptures or all the stories into account…The title [Overview] describes the opposite of what is actually the case: the confusion and the swamp and the simultaneity of these things’. 

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/fischli-weiss/fischli-weiss-room-guide-room-1/fischli-weiss

Mick Jagger and Brian Jones going home satisfied after composing 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction' from Suddenly this Overview, 1981-2006

Dozens of wonderfully sculpted clay models on plinths give us an overview of the world - from the breakthrough into daylight during the digging of the Gotthard tunnel, to the moment after the conception of Albert Einstein (so the title informs us), his parents in bed in innocent slumber. Here's Dr Albert Hoffman cycling home for lunch in Basle after imbibing the LSD he has just synthesised; St Anthony tempted in a cave, with no one for company but his own imagination; a DJ mixing at his turntables. There are Swiss scenes: clay walkers looking at a clay waterfall, mountain passes, snow, forests and rocks, as well as rowing boats braving storm-tossed clay seas, and the moment when a fish first decides to heave itself onto dry land. Here are Mick Jagger and Brian Jones walking home after having written Satisfaction. So much is included - a punctiliously rendered bowl of crisps, twiglets and olives, an airliner crashing into the sea; so much of the world is left out.
Adrian Searle
http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2006/oct/10/comedy

Popular opposites; little + big from Suddenly this Overview, 1981-2006

A couple of cartoonish ghosts descend a flight of stairs. On the floor some vermicelli-shaped objects are arranged to resemble chains, broken bones and skulls. Facing the ghosts, on top of the wall, a bat spreads its wings. Together with another 200 or so unfired clay figurines and sculptures, this work, entitled Im Keller (In the Cellar), is part of Plötzlich diese Ubersicht (Suddenly this Overview), an installation from 1981 that was the earliest major collaborative project between Peter Fischli and David Weiss. This was the first time the work has been shown since, which made the exhibition pretty significant. One hundred and thirty-five of the original pieces were included, set on plain white pedestals.

Strolling among the work you could encounter characters from comic books and popular culture (Clark Kent, Max and Moritz), famous Swiss products such as Cervelas (a fat, short pinkish wurst), biblical scenes (The Parting of the Red Sea, Saint Francis Preaching to the Animals), or events of earth-shattering significance (the conception of Albert Einstein, the Italy vs Germany World Cup Final). Some of the works have straightforward, descriptive titles: a piece of crystal, for example, is entitled Rock Crystal, and a Christ on the Cross is just that. But then you might come across a sculpture of a man riding a motorbike entitled Dr Hoffman after the First LSD Trip. Insanely wide-ranging and permanently incomplete, Suddenly this Overview is a leisurely and hilarious catalogue of scenes created from memory. There is a magical and almost hallucinatory quality to such a proliferation of particularities. Looking from label to sculpture to check if what you read was really what you got, you could sense how much fun the artists must have had making the work.

This playfulness is where the installation’s subversive force lies: working in unfired clay, a technique you would normally use for preliminary studies in traditional sculpture, Fischli and Weiss found a form of process art that steered clear of both Expressionist pretensions and Conceptual taxonomies, stressing the idea of two people managing to joke together and still being able to call that ‘work’.
Mai-Thu Perret
https://www.frieze.com/issue/review/peter_fischli_and_david_weiss/

Popular Opposites: Theory and Practice from Suddenly this Overview, 1981-2006

The gentle humour and superficial simplicity of this art belies its depth. In a 1981 piece, Suddenly This Overview, they attempt to tell the history of the world in 300 small-scale unfired clay sculptures. On the surface, these look like the things children might make in art class. But the more you look, the more you realise that the work attempts to deal with everything that ever happened, from the big events (a Christmas crib) and anonymous tragedies (an airliner crashing into the sea) to the moments that history forgot to record ("Mr and Mrs Einstein in their bed shortly after the conception of their son, the genius Albert", for instance).

Perhaps the thought that a child could make this art is the whole point. Only a childish (or an artistic) intelligence is capable of seeing the world with this innocence. These hugely sophisticated artists are playing dumb in order to open themselves (and us) up to all human experience, and particularly to the kind of experience that children appreciate but that adults despise.
Richard Dorment
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3656144/The-best-and-the-wurst.html 

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