PRINT February 1994


The Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss are putterers who make things they needn’t make; items that are usually useful achieve futility in their hands. They are a miniguild, producing an art that goes undercover, that slips by, momentarily undetected in a scan of one’s surroundings. In the summer of 1992, for example, in Schorndorf, south Germany, they took over a prefabricated one-car garage behind an Imbiss Bude (snack shack) in an expanse of farmland. Through a small window one could spy the props of a nondescript existence—a worktable, modest cooking facilities, dog food, a comfortable chair; somebody’s whole world packed into a gray concrete box. There was no sign, no explanation, and only after a long pause did one realize that everything was patiently handmade—a laborious homage to the blindingly familiar.

The occupant of this outbuilding in a pasture was surely a handyman and a recluse, made heroic only by the artist’s touch—by the preservation (re-creation) of his affects as future artifacts. This project for Artforum is a tableau similar to the Schorndorf installation, but it also evokes a familiar art genre, “the artist’s studio.” Two products and a crumpled backdrop suggest the practice of (fine) artmaking. The rest could be any artisan’s. There must be two bodies somewhere beyond the table, one who drinks Diet, the other Classic Coke.

Some things here are real, others handmade. Here is another day curated upon a tabletop, a still life of the objects one might use to create a still life. It is a full day. Milk, iced tea, beer: they forgot to eat. A banana may or may not turn color, turn soft. Something is playing in the background—maybe it’s Wagner—but the batteries are running low and strains of Die Feen wane sluggishly. The phone hasn’t rung in days, patrons have ceased to call. In fact the phone isn’t even connected. You could clean but you just don’t have the time. You’re a bit of a cliché. You mean to clean but every day folds into the next, and basic chores seem to slip your mind.

Collier Schorr is an artist and writer who lives in New York. She is the U.S. editor for Frieze magazine, London.