Fischli/Weiss: The Way Things Go

13 October–1 December 2007

A blast from the past . . . Swiss duo Fischli/Weiss's classic 1987 film The Way Things Go was the hit of that year'sDocumenta IIX. It is set in a warehouse or workshop, where the artists document an epic half-hour chain reaction featuring simple mundane objects—string, soap, styrofoam cups, rubber tires, pails, bottles, balloons, mattresses, and a variety of corrosive and flammable liquids. Recalling a giant Rube Goldberg device, The Way Things Go is an absurd demonstration of the laws of physics and chemistry. Objects become anthropomorphicised, operating like ideosyncratic cartoon characters. 'There are moments when instead of acting automatically, and with immediacy, the objects seem to hesitiate, as if reflecting upon what it is they are about to do: the tyre resting amongst the burning newspaper before moving on, and resting again before rolling on once more', wrote Jeremy Millar. One can only marvel at the pointless, slapstick logic and infinite comic variety of this charming-ironic parody of functionality.