Shortly after they met, Fischli and Weiss adopted a Bear and a Rat as their alter egos. Suspended from the ceiling on a giant mobile cradle, these figures greet visitors even outside the gallery. Indoors, a satirical film reminiscent of a Fassbinder working-class drama follows the animals slacking about in a collector’s villa and in the gallery where they discover the dealer’s dead body. In Fischli and Weiss’ trademark slapstick humour, this nearly turns the show into an art world whodunit.
Nearly, because bears and rats are always sock puppets. A wall’s worth of diagrams in which they half-seriously attempt to solve this murder mystery and overcome once and for all the art world’s internal contradictions do nothing of the sort because the artists are themselves the perps. What could be a police procedural turns into a drinking game of mock-Foucauldian, mock-Marxist power analysis. Questions become slogans, evidence commodity.
Forty years have passed since these events and it is easy to forget that artists, quite literally, already know where the bodies are buried. Fischli and Weiss’ animal intrigue, like all art, lets them admit this and still walk off into the sunset without facing the consequences.