In preparation for this film, Fischli and Weiss worked for a full year to perfect a series of chain reactions in which objects would topple, burst, burn, and smoke, shifting kinetic energy from one to the next. This film originated in a series of photographs, called Equilibres, that the duo created in 1984 and 1987, which take precariously balanced industrial objects as their subjects. The camera minimizes differences in scale—for example, between a barrel and a balloon—and the objects take the place of human actors, who are nowhere to be found.
The Way Things Go builds on modern art’s investigation of the space between high art and the everyday. The film was shot in a stark warehouse, and automobile tires, garbage bags, and plastic water jugs take center stage, rolling, twisting, and exploding in what seems to be an unbroken, thirty-minute sequence of events. The film is an absurdist feat; Fischli and Weiss’s devotion to detritus injects a burst of humor into the high-minded seriousness of the art world.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 71.