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Fischli and Weiss: The Way Things Go

Watch a video of a spectacular chain reaction of objects set up inside a warehouse.

The Way Things Go presents a spectacle both playful and perilous. The 30-minute film follows a chain reaction among objects in an abandoned warehouse. Elaborate weights and pulleys, spilling liquids, and pyrotechnics link together tires, bottles, balloons, kettles, and other household objects. The contraption resembles a Rube Goldberg machine that performs a simple task in an overcomplicated way. A soundtrack accompanies the video, made of popping bubbles, jugs emptied of water, and hissing bottle rockets. The entire structure is over 30 metres long and took over two years of planning.

With the artists’ signature deadpan humour, The Way Things Go reveals how ordinary materials have the power to surprise. The artists exploit chemical reactions and laws of physics to create a narrative filled with tension, shock, and delight. Everything is carefully arranged to produce this experimental work reveling in chaos. Through their artistic use of ordinary objects, the artists invite viewers to consider the creative possibilities of everyday life.

About the Artists

Swiss artists Peter Fischli (b. 1952) and David Weiss (1946–2012) collaborated for 33 years. Referred to as “the merry pranksters of contemporary art” by the New York Times, their work elevates the ordinary and is celebrated for its imaginative breakdown of the distinction between high and low art. Fischli and Weiss have created work across multiple media, including sculptures made from polystyrene and unvarnished clay, and videos and photographs of playful stories and scenarios that have been exhibited worldwide.

Image credit: Peter Fischli and David Weiss, The Way Things Go, 1987, film still. Photo courtesy of Icarus Films.