Fischli and Weiss, Equilibres.
Fischli and Weiss’ Equilibres project records a wide range of objects common to the home or studio in configurations that at times seem to defy gravity and achieve a state of equilibrium. Many images depict objects arranged in such a lopsided manner whose state of equilibrium owes much to the use of glue, tape, nails, etc .The question this raises is what makes these photographs whose title means “a static state in which all forces or processes are in balance and there is no resultant change,” so impossible to accept? If one takes into account that the majority of writing about the Equilibres which consistently refers to them as if they were contingent events on the brink of collapse, it appears that the lack of any significant placeholders of meaning within the frame is hard for people writing about the works to digest. The Equilibres are portraits of objects in states of equilibrium, they punctuate the photograph’s ability to provide little information other than what is written/titled or projected upon it . In Circles of Confusion Hollis Frampton defined the photograph and it’s pretext (a portrait and a face which are related to one another by a “likeness”) as being ontologically manacled together. If we consider the Equlibres using Frampton’s definition then what Fischli and Weiss give us is a set of images that portray balance and a title that reaffirms this condition. Many photographs show objects defying gravity to such a degree that they could have only been fixed in place to enable the photograph to be taken. Since balance or equilibrium is achieved once something reaches a static state the means with which the state is achieved is not important. The issue of balance in the images becomes less important the more you look at the image. It is a photographic MacGuffin that must be recognized before we can begin to imagine how important these works are when they are considered as part of re-examination of the photographic medium by 2nd generation conceptualists.
That is of course a door which I have no intention or aptitude to open, instead I think the Equilibres reminds us that behind every mask is another mask, there is no face to be found.
Mitchell Goodman was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1968. He has been a artist and writer for the past 20 years, presently he is in PHDS at the New School for Social Research in New York where he has lived for the past 5 years.