The Sausage Photographs 1979 was Fischli / Weiss’s first collaborative project, and exemplifies their inventive and humorous use of everyday materials to create a compelling fictional world. Each photograph documents a dramatic scene composed using sausages, various cold meats and common household goods. Reminiscent of a children’s game, with its unbounded capacity for make-believe, the artists transform crumpled bedding into an Alpine landscape and slices of luncheon meat into patterned carpets. In The Accident, two sausage cars have collided in a narrow street lined with cardboard buildings while on-lookers, in the form of cigarette butts, stare at the wreckage. The scene is extremely convincing, despite being made from such bizarre materials.
Another early work, Suddenly this Overview 1981/2006 presents its own microscopic model of the world, consisting of dozens of hand-modelled unfired clay sculptures. As Weiss has explained, ‘The intention was to accumulate various important and unimportant events in the history of mankind, and of the planet – moments in the fields of technology, fairy tales, civilization, film, sports, commerce, education, sex, biblical history, nature and entertainment.’ The scenes they selected include Herr and Frau Einstein shortly after the conception of their son, the genius Albert, and Mick Jagger and Brian Jones going home satisfied after composing ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’. Other works in the series include everyday items such as a loaf of bread, a teaset and a pot – an early example of the artists’ fascination with the ordinary. A third category portray what the artists refer to as ‘Popular Opposites’, such as work and play, theory and practice, high and low, big and small. According to Fischli, ‘the viewer cannot simultaneously take all the sculptures or all the stories into account…The title [Overview] describes the opposite of what is actually the case: the confusion and the swamp and the simultaneity of these things’.