The photographs which make up the series Equilibres / Quiet Afternoon 1984 show precariously balanced sculptures at what appears to be the exact moment before their collapse. Perhaps not such a quiet afternoon then. Everyday items such as vegetables, kitchen utensils, tyres, chairs, and tools, are piled in elaborate configurations that – for an instant, at least – appear stable. ‘We discovered that we could leave all formal decisions to equilibrium itself’, Fischli has said of these sculptures. ‘There was apparently no way to do it ‘better’ or ‘worse’, just ‘correctly’.’
Many of the titles suggest dramatic scenarios, endowing the objects with personalities. Mrs Pear Bringing her Husband a Freshly Ironed Shirt for the Opera. The Boy Smokes is a family tableau played out by shoes, a hanger and other items of domestic clutter. In Roped Mountaineers a tense scene unfolds. Suspend disbelief and a carrot, a wine bottle, a fork, two cheese graters, and some string become harnessed climbers engaged in a precarious mountaineering expedition. In these acrobatic still-lifes carrots are triumphant and bottles brave.
Beetle 1986–7 is a prop from the film The Way Things Go 1986–7, which is shown in the following room. Made from an aluminium water-jug mounted on roller-skates and flanked by knives, this aggressive object plays a part in the film’s chain-reaction of staged collisions and chemical reactions.