In Focus

Equilibres/Quiet Afternoon

In this series of photographs, Peter Fischli (b. 1952) and David Weiss (1946-2012) created a number of precarious constructions out of everyday objects and then photographed them. Working across media (photography, film, sculpture, and installation), Fischli and Weiss were masters at conjuring everyday materials into art. For this series, industrial and household items were chosen by the artists and placed on various plinths or bases or in studio corners and given full photographic treatment, sometimes almost as portraits. Lighting casts shadows across some of the back of the walls, furthering the sense of abstract composition and the idea of drawing in space with light. Some of the set-ups are modest, while others assume the proportions of being at least life-size if not larger. Some constructions appear stolidly ready to survive despite their inherent and obvious imbalances. Others, by their very nature (works incorporating food, in particular) suggest perishability and impermanence. The abjectness of transience is gently masked in these humorous photographs.

In creating the scenarios in this series, Fischli and Weiss can be seen working in a vein already present in the 1960s photographs of Gerhard Richter (2001.284) and Sigmar Polke (2005.46) in the Dallas Museum of Art's collection, in which these artists took the idea of photography and undermined its truth-telling capabilities by setting up impossible scenes. Furthermore, the idea of the precarious sculpture (with sculpture really being the proper subject of these photographs), connections can be made to the work of Richard Serra (1976.24), Anthony Caro (1974.13), and Charles Ray (2001.264.A-E), artist's whose sculptures in the Museum's collection deal directly with the same issue, but with a fairly straightforward modernist sensibility in the treatment of materials and forms.

Adapted from

Charles Wylie, DMA unpublished material.