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Fischli & Weiss, The Way Things Go

Fischli & Weiss, The Way Things Go (1987), video still [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Feb 18-Jun 18] Photo courtesy of Icarus Films © Fischli & Weiss

Fischli & Weiss/Ibghy and Lemmens

Art Gallery of Alberta
Edmonton AB – Feb 18-Jun 18, 2017

Now 33 years removed from its debut, Fischli & Weiss’s The Way Things Go (1987) remains an exhibition staple and an art school favourite. What is it about this artwork that makes it so enduring? An answer might be found in the works it has inspired – one of which, Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens’s video Real failure needs no excuse (2012), is currently on display in concert with Fischli & Weiss’s masterpiece.

Neither an installation nor a kinetic sculpture, The Way Things Go is a 30-minute chain-reaction film that begins with a spinning bag of garbage and, following a succession of rolling tires, tipped chairs, lit wicks and balloon deflations, concludes with a dry-ice storm. Comic and poignant, the work is as much about filmmaking as it is about engineering, an at times nerve-wracking success story that appeals to young and old alike.

For Real failure, Ibghy and Lemmens set up in an unoccupied office building, and, using fans, office dividers and ceiling fixtures, are seen constructing in both sculpture and in video a series of increasingly precarious spatial compositions. While not as gripping as The Way Things Go, Real failure succeeds in shifting the terms for success (and failure) from a physically connected linear sequence to those more furtively connected mental occlusions that connect us to our everyday lives.


Michael Turner

 Mon, May 29, 2017