Peter Fischli, David Weiss The Way Things Go 1987

  • Not on view

In preparation for this film, Fischli and Weiss worked for a full year to perfect a series of chain reactions in which objects would topple, burst, burn, and smoke, shifting kinetic energy from one to the next. This film originated in a series of photographs, called Equilibres, that the duo created in 1984 and 1987, which take precariously balanced industrial objects as their subjects. The camera minimizes differences in scale—for example, between a barrel and a balloon—and the objects take the place of human actors, who are nowhere to be found.

The Way Things Go builds on modern art's investigation of the space between high art and the everyday. The film was shot in a stark warehouse, and automobile tires, garbage bags, and plastic water jugs take center stage, rolling, twisting, and exploding in what seems to be an unbroken, thirty-minute sequence of events. The film is an absurdist feat; Fischli and Weiss's devotion to detritus injects a burst of humor into the high-minded seriousness of the art world.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 71.
Medium
16mm film transferred to video (color, sound). 31 min.
Credit
Purchase
Object number
77.1989
Copyright
© 2021 Peter Fischli and David Weiss
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].