‘Unlike Pop art, which turns one particular object into an icon, [Rubber Sculptures] are a collection of replicas of worthless everyday objects… we want to take things out of the niche where they belong and transport them somewhere else, but without denying their origins’ (P. Fischli, quoted in J. Heiser, ‘The Odd Couple’, frieze, October 2006, Issue 102, http:/www.frieze.com/ issue/article/the_odd_couple/).
A gleaming black rubber cast of a brick wall, Wall perfectly demonstrates Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s enduring fondness for transferring the commonplace into the realm of art. Executed in 1986, this work is one of the earliest examples of Fischli and Weiss’ acclaimed series of Rubber Sculptures (1986-2005), an encyclopaedic grouping of true-to-life cast black rubber sculptures of natural objects and quotidian domestic items such as Kerze (Candle), 1986, (Centre Pompidou, Paris) or Untitled (Root), 2005 (Tate, London). Wall thereby notably belongs to the first twenty-four cast objects the artists produced between 1986 and 1987, and which were shortly after showcased as a grouping at Sprüth Magers at Art Basel, the Milan-based Galerie Casa d’Arte (both in 1987), and were subject of the duo’s solo exhibition at the Portikus Museum, Frankfurt am Main in 1988. Between 1979 and 2012, the internationally acclaimed artist duo collaboratively produced a diverse and rich oeuvre that examines the conditions of the contemporary world through a sincere – yet strikingly effortless and humorous – philosophical lens. While experimenting with installation, photography, video and film, they were notably among the first artists to re-introduce representation in the realm of sculpture in the 1980s.
Wall embodies the disarming ease and playfulness with which Fischli and Weiss continuously strike at the very conventions of art, challenging traditional assumptions about art making, objecthood, originality and authorship. Building on the series Polyurethane Objects (1982 - 2013), whereby the artists created hand-carved and painted replicas of objects found in their studio, rubber sculptures such as the present one irreverently play with the dominantly eighteenth-century plaster cast tradition. Fischli and Weiss here replace the white marble original Greek and Roman masterpieces with the mundane objects of the everyday, and cast them in synthetic black rubber – a material typically used for car tires and other durable products. Conjuring associations of industry and mass production, the choice of this material suddenly makes the familiar seem strange. Though rubber had previously surfaced as a found objects in Fluxus or Pop Art assemblages, its use to cast commonplace objects is unconventional. ‘Unlike Pop art, which turns one particular object into an icon, they are a collection of replicas of worthless everyday objects,’ Peter Fischli explained, ‘…we want to take things out of the niche where they belong and transport them somewhere else, but without denying their origins’ (P. Fischli, quoted in J. Heiser, ‘The Odd Couple’, frieze, October 2006, Issue 102, http:/www.frieze.com/issue/article/ the_odd_couple/). By defamiliarizing the commonplace in such a way, Fischli and Weiss here imbue a wall – an often overlooked, yet essential structure – with an unexpected aesthetic that invites the viewer to explore the hidden symbolic value of the quotidian. Brilliantly articulating Fischli and Weiss’ enduring meditation on the banality of existence, Wall is encourages the viewer to probe more deeply into the questions of the universe – whether they be big or small, profound or mundane.