At the center of Things is a life-sized glowing rhinoceros. A powerful symbol of stamina, sturdiness, and strength, the rhino is the perfect anchor for the frozen maelstrom of objects and items that balance on top of, collide into, and seemingly emerge out of its resilient figure. Things examines the way that everyday objects and forces within our societies and cultures accumulate as we navigate throughout our worlds. Through consumption and consumerism, innumerable narratives are forged by the things that enter each of our individual lives. As the materials and ephemera of everyday life occupy our own spaces, we become the rhinoceros—absorbing and processing all that floats through our existence.
In an interview with curator and writer Francesco Bonami, Fischer described our relationship with Things stating: “You could say while we sit here, while the things go through you— from your ancestors… to your phones…[and] whatever else flows through you—everything is part of you in a way” (U. Fischer, interview with F. Bonami, Gagosaian Quarterly, 29 May 2018, accessed at www.gagosian.com/quarterly). Indeed, Things—while being completely static—conjures the notion of movement through time, alluding to our ever changing perception of the world around us as defined by the quotidian objects that preoccupy the moment. Referring to the rhino as his “protagonist,” Fischer’s creature of choice is an organic and heavy animal with prehistoric roots that “looks like it comes from somewhere in the past and moves into the present while the other things are all man-made objects” (U. Fischer, quoted in P. Libby, ‘A Life-Size Rhinoceros Sculpture by Urs Fischer Will Go Up in Midtown,’ New York Times, 13 May 2018, accessed at www.nytimes.com).
Combining state-of-the-art technologies, conventional objects, and a steadfast rhinoceros with ancestral ties to the prehistoric, Fischer’s Things tests the boundaries of possibility and perception through the unique discourses it evokes within each of its viewers.”
Photocopiers, vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, high-heeled boots, Louis Vuitton bags, potato chip bags, chairs, cinder blocks, and a car door make up the diverse but recognizably mundane lexicon of contemporary items coursing through Fischer’s glowing silver sculpture. Through a careful play of associations and scales of the various items—oscillating between small stools and a table for eight—Fischer destabilizes and recalibrates our conceptions of our physical surroundings through utterly ordinary devices. “I just use stuff that’s around me,” he has explained. “And those objects, those domestic images, as you call them, are made in human scale, so they can also be related to humans. They’re made by humans and for humans. They speak about us. And they are things you are bound to deal with” (U. Fischer, quoted in M. Gioni, “This is my Grandmother, She Makes Really Genius Cakes: An Interview with Urs Fischer,” in Urs Fischer: Shovel in a Hole, exh. cat., New Museum, New York, 2010, p. 63).
While, Fischer has described the conception and development of Things as an “eight-year process, that comes out of feeling and thoughts and then moves gradually into different objects, or different forms that it can take” (U. Fischer, quoted in P. Libby, ‘A Life-Size Rhinoceros Sculpture by Urs Fischer Will Go Up in Midtown,’ New York Times, 13 May 2018, accessed at www.nytimes.com). The choice to center the work with an impressively substantive rhinoceros was not always obvious. "I was looking for a protagonist for this specific thing that happens—with all of these objects basically floating through,” Fischer has described. “At some point I had a horse and a carriage, which was very long, then I shifted over to a variety of things. One day I saw a little rhino and I was like ‘that’s my friend’” (U. Fischer, interview with F. Bonami, op. cit.)
Fashioned out of aluminum, the dissonant mass of objects spirals out of a life-size three dimensional scan of a taxidermy rhinoceros, and has been realized as one continuous unit. The idea of grounding Things with a living creature was of utmost importance to Fischer. Amidst a vortex of inanimate objects, the artist attests that, indeed, “if you feel something for anything, it’s probably not the photocopier. All these other things are interfering. They’re nothing, you know, they’re just bullshit” (U. Fischer quoted in, N. Stagg, ‘Play,’ Gagosian Quarterly, Winter 2018, accessed at www.gagosian.com/quarterly).
Combining state-of-the-art technologies, conventional objects, and a steadfast rhinoceros with ancestral ties to the prehistoric, Fischer’s Things tests the boundaries of possibility and perception through the unique discourses it evokes within each of its viewers. Made up of ordinary items, the extraordinary creature transports us to a fantastical world that is at once contemporary, prehistoric, and digital—creating a truly mysterious and uncharted experience. Things is a remarkable example of Fischer’s prowess for pushing the boundaries of our of our conceivable reality. Positioned within Fischer’s amusing and slightly satirical oeuvre, Things forces us to pause and reposition the banality of our everyday existence.
Lot Essay Header Image: Present lot illustrated (detail). © Urs Fischer. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Stefan Altenburger.