Letinsky, Fischli and Weiss

My tutor advised me to take a look at the work of Laura Letinsky. I was surprised to see the resemblance on first glance between her work and the work of David Weiss and Peter Fischli so I thought I would compare the two.

Similar in approach and ideology to David Weiss (b. 1946- d. 2012) and Peter Fischli’s (fischli-weiss.com) (b. 1952) series ‘Equilibrium’ but made almost two decades later, Laura Letinsky (b. 1962) takes the everyday, leftovers of life and photographs them for several series, among them ‘Hardly More Than Ever’.

Both parties produce seemingly uncomplicated photographs of various household items, leftovers and paraphernalia.
Letinsky takes a high key approach to her works, giving it a more modern feel and in the process lifting her subjects from the background. The composition although in some cases littered with detritus, has a very clean feel to it compared with the much more rustic landscape of the Fischli/Weiss images.

Quiet Afternoon – Fischli/Weiss, 1984

The images from both parties have a desaturated, minimalist feel, playing down the intensity of colour to more concentrate the viewer’s focus on the form of what is in front of them.

The differences start to appear in the assembly of the scenes. Although all the artists deliberately construct the scenario, one aims to keep the disorder apparent whilst the other constructs delicately balanced order from the chaos. Letinsky’s images though, still show a dramatic amount of concentration on the composition and deliberacy to be able to capture what she is thinking. On the other hand, Fischli/Weiss construct eloquent structures, sculptures from their remains and everyday objects. They appear to be having a lot of fun with their work. Letinsky possibly less so.

Untitled, #54, Hardly More Than Ever series, Laura Letinsky, 2002

Fischli/Weiss attempt to produce a solid structures to photograph, something that wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery as contemporary physical sculpture. However, to the best of my knowledge they were never exhibited as such, only the photographs ever went on display. Letinsky produces more ephemeral pieces of work that feel as though they could, at any minute, disappear in to the ether.

Letinsky alludes strongly to a human presence without ever actually showing someone in her images. Fischli/Weiss create images that although clearly created by humans have an almost autonomous look to them as though they somehow formed themselves from the

Letinsky is first and foremost a photographer, meanwhile Fischli/Weiss also ventured in to film making, among other features, ‘Der Lauf der Dinge’ (‘The Way Things Go’) in 1987. This film idea was a direct result of the static photography carried out during the ‘Equilibrium’ series. A clip of the film can be seen below.

This may sound an odd approach to photographic subjects, but it grabs my attention and appreciation. I enjoy photographing the everyday because on the whole, other people don’t. Earlier in my web-based research for the assignment, photographs I had regularly picked out as possibilities began to have a distinctly similar feel to them as those described above. Muted colours, unlikely partnerships in the scene and quite graphic representation of the subject matter. Most of these are much less cluttered than the photographs produced by the above artists and effect a more ‘classic’ still life look. Possibly this is easier to achieve than attempting the chaotic but ordered appearance.

I have to say it’s great to find photographs like this as it means I am not alone in not wanting to reproduce still life as a vase of pretty flowers or a fruit bowl of vibrant colours.

Below are some of the appealing images I found before finding and looking at Letinsky’s and Fischli/Weiss’ work.

 

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