Sometimes how we are known by others, often in spite of how we know ourselves or set out to be known, becomes a fact. Yet, everyone falls in love with people, places, and buildings for their own highly personalized needs and reasons. Consequently, how we are known evolves. On one of their early visits to Aspen together, Peter Fischli and Wade Guyton picked up on this anomaly and set out to create an exhibition that would call attention to how people know and love the museum.
By Dimitris Lempesis
Photo: Aspen Art Museum Archive
The exhibition “Wade Guyton Peter Fischli David Weiss” at the Aspen Art Museum is a collaboration between Wade Guyton and Peter Fischli and David Weiss, who during their 33 year collaboration are known as Fischli & Weiss. The exhibition encompasses all six galleries as well as the Commons, Roof Deck Sculpture Garden, and other previously non–art presentation defined spaces. Exploring how our perception of space affects our understanding of objects and images. For the exhibition, Guyton and Fischli have collaborated on numerous aspects of the show, both maesthetic and banal. Most prominent are their wall sculptures, placed in various spaces around the museum, outside and within the galleries. These works ask visitors to physically orient themselves in relation to the objects, which, in some cases, function as barriers to what lies ahead. Interspersed among and placed in relation to these collaborative sculptures are significant pieces from Guyton’s as well as Fischli & David Weiss’s respective practices. At Lower Level Corridor are on presentation Wade Guyton’s “Untitled Long Black Paintings” (2014), Guyton’s black paintings happened by accident as he was trying to cover up pieces that he felt were failures. He continued to print a 100 percent black file over X paintings until they achieved a wholly different surface. Made like most of his paintings, they are folded and printed with several layers. Guyton’s horizontal works are made with the same black file he uses for his smaller, vertical, black paintings, but enlarged. The blank linen, which would normally be cropped off, is left intact. These two paintings were first shown in New York where the walls of the gallery defined their length. Both ends touched either a corner or a doorway and faced each other. Here, they are rearranged and hang together on a larger wall as a new work. For the 1997 Münster Skulptur Projekte, Fischli & Weiss created “Flowers and Mushrooms”, (1997-98 / 2006) a secluded garden that blossomed flowers and mushrooms, and was maintained by an on-site gardener who advised the artists throughout the exhibition. The book produced to document the installation was the foundationfor their 2006 work “Flowers and Mushrooms”. Photographing the garden, the artists experimented with a double exposure technique, creating an effect that destabilizes the viewer. On Gallery 5 is on presentation “Rat and Bear (Sleeping)” (2008). Rat and Bear, are recurring characters in Fischli & Weiss’s practice, made their debut in the film “The Least Resistance” (1980-81. The fame- and money-hungry brown rat and panda bear, originally played by the artists and invented when the duo was living in Los Angeles and fascinated by the city’s movie industry, eventually gain a newfound understanding of life in the film. Decades later, the animal costumes resurfaced in museum vitrines, and then a series of fantastical, otherworldly films and installations. “Rat and Bear (Sleeping)”, fully equipped with breathing machines, came to life following a scene in a film produced in the mid- 2000s that shows them napping on packing blankets. Starting in 2005 and depicting blistering flames, Guyton’s “Fire Paintings” are scanned from the cloth cover of a scrapped book. The flames lick up the immense canvas, while beneath them, dark pools of sporadic drips and skids dilute the controlled, linear composition. As Guyton explains: “Fire is always captivating…. The first time I printed the fire on linen was on one of those brutally humid New York summer nights. No AC in the studio. I was sweating, and the paintings were melting”. With “Suddenly This Overview” (1981- ), and throughout Fischli & Weiss’s practice, they have attempted to cataloguethe entirety of human existence, while knowing it was an impossible undertaking. The duo’s readymade “Radio” (1993-2014) situated on a plinth, archives a subjective history by transmitting details from the past. Instead of functioning as a source for news on current and future events, the sound work repeatedly communicates what has already occurred, in essence freezing time.
Info: Curator: Courtenay Finn, Curatorial Assistant: Lauren Fulton, Aspen Art Museum, 637 East Hyman Avenue, Aspen, Duration: 22/6-26/11/17, Days & Hours: Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00, www.aspenartmuseum.org