Kay Rosen on Fischli and Weiss


As part of the Annual Guide to Galleries, Museums and Artists (A.i.A.’s August issue), we preview the 2014-15 season of museum exhibitions worldwide. In addition to offering their own top picks, our editors asked select artists, curators and collectors to identify the shows they are looking forward to. Here, artist Kay Rosen talks about Peter Fischli and David Weiss.

“In 1990, someone in Zurich gave me a VHS tape of Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s Der Lauf der Dinge or, in English, The Way Things Go [1987]. I instantly fell in love with it, because it is so smart and so dumb at the same time—and so funny. I appreciate the way time and space go hand in hand in the parade of cause-and-effect events that take place seamlessly and linearly over the half-hour video. It seems to be happening in real time—a bucket of foaming liquid falls over the edge of a table after being nudged by a ball that had rolled down a track. In fact, though, The Way Things Go is a masterpiece of staging, camerawork, editing and, I imagine, trial and error.  

“I love that Fischli and Weiss seemed to have such a good time making their work. It’s highly social in that regard and seems to come out of their joint humor, temperament and point of view. For me, their work has a double-edged quality. On one side, there are the silliness and mistake-riddled experiments and, on the other, the polished, straight-faced public performance or presentation. The two sides inform each other, and the viewer who can straddle both just has to love the work.”

“Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better,” Guggenheim Museum, New York, Feb.-Apr. 2016.


Kay Rosen is an artist based in Indiana.