Among the many events that were canceled last week due to the snowstorm was a conversation with Peter Fischli in conjunction with the newly opened and excellently titled exhibition Peter Fischli David Weiss: Questions, Sausage Photographs, and a Quiet Afternoon. The exhibition is the duo's first solo presentation in Chicago in over 20 years and showcases the artists' trademark wit, constant exploration into the uses of everyday objects, and lack of pretension.
The show presents two photographic series—The Sausage Photographs (1979) and A Quiet Afternoon (1984–86)— from early in the artists' collaborative career. The Sausage Photographs position encased meat as the protagonist in a variety of scenes including a fashion show (see above), a car crash, and a shopping expedition to a carpet store. These imaginative tableaux take objects that could be found in and around any refrigerator and re-imagine them as disasters and/or mundane activities. Similarly, photographs from A Quiet Afternoon utilize everyday materials (a wine bottle, a chair, a boot), but balance them precariously on each other...something one might do during a quiet afternoon.
The exhibition also includes Questions (1981, 2002–03), a 15-channel slide installation that confronts the viewer with questions in four languages (English, German, Italian, and Japanese) that range from profound to absurd. In just a few minutes in the gallery, I came across questions like "What does my dog think?" and "Am I musically homeless?" and "Is seven a lot?" and "Does being tired help to understand secret messages?" The final question actually might explain quite a bit as the artists were thinking of questions that might run through a person's head as they were trying to fall asleep.