Installation view, Peter Fischli David Weiss, Fotografias, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Löwenbräu Areal, Zurich, 2005
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to present a solo show of new works by the Swiss artist team of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. It is titled Fotografias, as is the book published to accompany the exhibition.
When Peter Fischli and David Weiss show new works, these are often extended groups of works produced over a period of time, with parts finalized in a variety of media. Plötzlich diese Übersicht (Suddenly This Overview) was comprised of an impressive array of clay sculptures, Sichtbare Welt (Visible World) could be seen as a photographic archive, and Fotografias is a photographic collection of painted images. The photos were taken on travels and trips in Switzerland and abroad, the painted images being paintings in popular, everyday contexts. The fact that applied painting is placed in an art context may seem surprising, and constitutes an original approach in itself, providing as it does some insight into an area that is seldom the focus of attention. The fact, however, that it is Peter Fischli and David Weiss that have embraced this theme – on fairgrounds and in amusement parks -, can be readily understood when seen in connection with the concerns of their previous work. While Sichtbare Welt revelled in the splendours of the world, Eine unerledigte Arbeit (An Unsettled Work) explored the darker areas of human imagination. But already while producing Sichtbare Welt, the artists encountered more marginalised walks of life, which they subsequently had to exclude when compiling the series.
Fotografias is, on the one hand, a new group of works, but on the other, it is also a continuation of the interests Peter Fischli and David Weiss developed in Sichtbare Welt and Eine unerledigte Arbeit. In Fotografias, the artists have worked with underexposed images, and the series also marks a new phase of black-and-white photography in their work. Though photography by definition reproduces the visible world, Fotografias enters a world of inner images. Landscapes, animal and mythological beings, female figures, cosmic representations, creatures of horror, historical scenes, all of these are part of this world. These visual universes stand on their own, but they also open up a rich network of interconnections, for example with art history or the area of collective dream worlds. The painted representations of these collective themes are revealed to be heavily coded, which is in marked contrast to the visible world. The artists softened the all-too-obvious symbolism of the paintings by also including images that are less clearly identifiable and more open to interpretation – in this way, Fotografias echoes Plötzlich diese Übersicht.
This is also because the gaze is always fixed on a wall, which can be seen from the unmistakable screws and dents of the original paintings that remain visible in the photographs. It is impossible to look through the wall and at the dark and mysterious things that might lurk behind it. The ambivalence of Fotografias is inherent as a matrix both in the painted originals and in the way the photographs were executed by the artists. The result is a tension that is in no way reduced by the medium-specific presentation.
The photos, whose dark look was achieved in-camera by underexposing (not through post-production effects, as might be supposed), are displayed in the usual amateur photography format of 10 x 15 cm (4 x 6 inches). This underlines the character of the pictures as photography per se, as everyday objects. Along with the subtraction of color, it also turns large-scale, public images into something that is private, intimate, and full of tension.
An unsettled work 1987 – 2005
The slide projection ‘An unsettled work’ by Peter Fischli David Weiss is to be seen in the context of their exhibition ‘Fotografias’ until October 28, 2005, at Galerie Eva Presenhuber.