Peter Fischli and David Weiss push the boundaries of installation, sculpture and appropriation with Stewardess I. Working collaboratively since 1979, they developed a body of work that explores representations of modern transportation, both automobile and airplane, in the late 1980s. Their series of photographs each entitled Untitled (Airport), completed over the subsequent decade from 1988-99, appear to be spontaneous snapshots, but in actuality are painstakingly planned vignettes. They capture motion, light, and color, providing a window into a microcosm. Simultaneous to photographic exploration, the pair was working in plaster sculpture and created sparse plaster molds of Cars. The use of stark plaster by Fischli and Weiss creates a blank canvas on which to project the viewer's feelings about contemporary travel. The chalky, unfinished quality, combined with the smaller-than-life scale of the stewardess, reduces the figure's prominence in space. Their ghostly appearance and frozen stance allows for the viewer to project their own desires onto the figure of the stewardess, as their role is to fulfill the needs of airplane passengers. The old-fashioned name "Stewardess", a title now referred to as flight attendant, and the three-piece uniform, recall the glory days of air travel of the 1950s. Martin Kippenberger further explores the use of class-based boundaries in his 1989 appropriation Business Class. Kippenberger recontextualizes an everyday curtain that separates airplane cabins as an ironic emblem of the false sense of privacy and entitlement that a Business Class ticket guarantees, similar to the comforts provided by a stewardess.
The Untitled (Airport) photographs are often displayed with casts from the Stewardess series, as they were for a temporary installation at the Glasgow Airport, creating a dialogue between the two representations of a constructed environment. Although these objects are only photographs of airports and plaster casts of stewardesses, a false reality is created. The experience of modern air travel is a subculture in which there are rules and norms that exist only within airports: security check-ins, boarding passes, elite membership statuses, cabin seating assignments and "stewardesses." Airports act within their own governing bodies and social-class demarcations that emphasize the absurdity and banality of our modern systems as demonstrated here by Peter Fischli and David Weiss with Stewardess I.