Reissue of a booklet from 1981, this suite of drawn charts and diagrams was originally published to accompany the films of Rat and Bear—Fischli & Weiss fictional alter egos, and symbols of Western culture's faith on contraries.
Throughout the course of their partnership, Fischli and Weiss probed the idea of dualistic thinking. Perhaps because they were a team of two involved in constant dialogue and debate, they consistently interrogated Western culture's reliance on contraries. In one way or another, everything they produced together playfully unravels what the artists understood to be “popular opposites” labor versus leisure, fiction versus reality, kitsch versus beauty, and the banal versus the sublime. The artists embodied this approach in their alter egos, Rat and Bear, who, for all their differences (rats being ugly and ubiquitous while pandas are lovable and endangered), appear as equal partners in their various misadventures. Rat and Bear surface throughout Fischli and Weiss's work in a range of forms, including appearances in the early films The Least Resistance (1980-81) and The Right Way (1983); as “authors” of the artists' book Order and Cleanliness (1981); and as a sculpture, Rat and Bear (Sleeping) (2008). The booklet Ordnung und Reinlichkeit (Order and Cleanliness) accompanied the Rat and Bear films and is crammed with charts and diagrams, each attempting to impose a crazed order on the world. First published in 1981, the original booklet was a self produced booklet, comprising a set of 15 color photocopies on sale following the first showing of The Least Resistance at a late-night screening in a Zurich theater.
Peter Fischli (born 1952 in Zurich) and David Weiss (born 1946 in Zurich, died on 27 April 2012) have been collaborating since 1979 on a body of work that humorously celebrates the sheer banality of everyday existence. Indebted to Dada, Surrealism, Pop Art, and Conceptual Art, utilising a variety of media including photography, film, video, artists' books, installation and sculpture, their work playfully ignores the traditional distinction between high and low art, while at the same time commenting on the human condition. Fischli & Weiss have represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale several times during their career.