Artists: Peter Fischli and David Weiss
Venue: Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Exhibition Title: Sonne, Mond und Sterne
Date: November 27 2008 – January 31, 2009
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are delighted to present an exhibition of a new work by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. ‘Sonne, Mond und Sterne’ is a gallery-scale presentation of a project which originated in book form as a commission by the Swiss media conglomerate Ringier AG, to customise their annual report and turn it into a work of art.
The 2007 Ringier annual report consists of 40 pages of business data, and 800 pages of adverts. The adverts have been carefully selected and scanned by the artists from hundreds of newspapers and magazines that could be found at any newsstand in any part of the globalised marketplace. The adverts cover the whole spectrum of the lifestyle of the contemporary consumer, ranging from sport to travel and from fashion to family life. The adverts are carefully grouped and each image is positioned opposite a purposefully chosen companion image, so that each double-page spread forms a kind of diptych, revealing through association or juxtaposition an aspect of our mass culture of consumption.
‘Sonne, Mond und Sterne’ has the effect of a kind of visual encyclopaedia of late capitalism, a typology of the present which exists between sociological research and an aesthetic analysis of the everyday. The specific ordering of the adverts within the report, and their arrangement into instructive and often ambiguous tableaux, amounts to an impressivel testament to the power of the modern economic system and the ways in which goods and services define the modern self. ‘Sonne, Mond und Sterne’ resists becoming a straightforward critique of consumerism; however, as Beatrix Ruf, curator of the Kunsthaus Zurich, notes: “Fischli and Weiss paired up 800 different ads and put them in an order that allows many interpretations – but tells no story.”
For the new gallery manifestation of ‘Sonne, Mond und Sterne’ at Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers Berlin, the adverts are arranged as offset prints on white paper, displayed on neutral, white painted tables and in the same order as in the catalogue. The experience of exploring ‘Sonne, Mond und Sterne’ through the gallery space rather than in published form reveals different kinds of linearity to the visual story of modern life that is being told, and emphasises the encyclopaedic nature of the project. The work encompasses in 800 images something approaching the entirety of contemporary human experience; the title ‘Sonne, Mond und Sterne’, meaning ‘Sun, Moon and Stars’, refers to a nursery rhyme and is concerned with the naming of things, and the process of identifying as well as classifying each object and experience in existence.
This fascination with comprehending the everyday has been a continuous motif in the work of Fischli and Weiss. Their work ‘Sichtbare Welt’ (1987-2000), a vast archive of nearly 3,000 photographs of the everyday and commonly observed, similarly revealed a concern to re-evaluate our assumptions about the world around us and was also presented in a variety of ways, including an artist’s book, a video installation and an installation of images on fifteen light tables. Each manifestation of Fischli and Weiss’s monumental documentary artworks offers different ways of accessing and experiencing the images collated. The gallery experience of ‘Sonne, Mond und Sterne’ presents a specifically powerful and unique opportunity to identify suggestive connections and relationships between the assembled adverts by physically navigating the work and constructing shifting maps of meaning through it.