|Visible World, Fischli and Weiss, 2002 (source)
||Five-Point Cut, Vidal Sassoon, 1964 (source)
‘…you can’t be in every beautiful place at the same time.’
—David Weiss (1946-2012)
Between 1987 and 2001 Peter Fischli and the late David Weiss took some 3,000 photographs, images that came to form their Visible World project. The photographs, arranged on long light tables that stretched across the exhibition space at New York’s Matthew Marks Gallery, collected instances of the world’s diversity, capturing human and animal life and the spaces, both natural and man-made, which surround it.
Visible World is neither a thorough catalog of the earth’s landscapes and peoples, nor an attempt at sorting and categorizing them. Instead, the project is bountiful without being structured, extensive but certainly not exhaustive. This is a work that rejoices in the landscape, and in a meandering kind of travel, rather than attempting an understanding or containment. The photographs stall and stutter: we see an airplane shifting ever so slightly as it is observed from dozens of angles. And they are patient: a cloud moves across a mountaintop and the mist that surrounds it lifts almost imperceptibly.
Fischli and Weiss’s deeply optimistic gesture is infused with wonder, the wonder of travel but also with the wonders of boredom, of repetition and of tourism. Things are made equivalent simply because they are made simultaneously visible. Rows of plantings, leaves and flowers and vegetables, seem as grand as the ornament of a Cambodian temple.
The seasons change; there is snow in the fields and on the trees, then it is autumn and the sun is setting. We are in the Alps; we are in the tropics. There are pyramids and temples, and there are museums in Paris. Cars idle along an American interstate, shifting lanes across frames.
Claiming inspiration from the Bauhaus, the late Vidal Sassoon interpreted Modern architecture’s functionalist ambitions leading him to diminish the styling of hair, which in the 1960s was overtly ornamental and labored. He showcased instead the nature of the material he was working with and his craft of cutting. This efficient, minimal approach was emphasized through the infinite layering of geometric primitives: circles, squares and triangles. Sassoon built his legacy by giving hair a graphic identity. The strictness of his shapes while definitive, remain simple, giving way to a vague immediacy.
Erandi de Silva
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