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Poetics of Banality

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Art Exhibit at The Art Institute of Chicago


Playful shenanigans that result in captivating art from Peter Fischli and David Weiss, collaborators for over 30 years. The current exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Wing closes Sunday, May 1, 2011.

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Proving that children should play with their food, The Sausage Photographs depict scenes made from everyday objects and the contents of a humble refrigerator that are photographed in an equally accessible way. No special lighting needed, no elaborate props, no special printing techniques; just an active imagination and a playful willingness to explore this little fantasy world.

In their series, A Quiet Afternoon(1984–86), totaling 92 photographs, Fischli and Weiss bring the viewer to magical moments of impossible balancing stunts created with everyday objects. The probability and possibility that what we are seeing can be true is kept afloat by a rising fervent hope that it might be real. Our own tendency toward doubt and skepticism or optimism and belief emerges. Add to the visually fascinating arrangements of kitchen gadgets, shoes, chairs, brooms, and food, cleverly worded titles that expand the narrative.

The exhibition also features the 15-channel slide installation,Questions (1981/2002–03) where the artists provide viewers a humorous observation about the human mind. Enter the darkened room, have a seat, and watch questions appear and dissolve as they are projected on the gallery walls. The words are white on black background so there is a minimal amount of illumination, adding to the meditative and solitary nature of the experience. The curving lines that the text create further the feeling of whimsy and appear in 5 languages.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Peter Fischli David Weiss: Questions, The Sausage Photographs, and a Quiet Afternoon

Last Day Sunday May 1, 2011

Modern Wing, Galleries 186-188