Fischli/Weiss’s 21 Questions (2021) is the second in an ongoing series of artist customisations of the iconic Stool 60, designed in 1933 by Artek co-founder Alvar Aalto. This edition of 252 follows Barbara Kruger’s 2019 Untitled (Kiss), which sold out its edition of 600 within weeks of its launch.
‘Since our first solo show in London at the ICA, I always went back to this great place for seeing shows, watching a film programme, buying a book or two or having a good British version of a cappuccino. Of course, making an edition for supporting this outstanding institution was a great pleasure and honour. I hope people will like it.’Peter Fischli
21 Questions pairs the timeless stool with a bespoke T-shirt whose labels features 21 selected excerpts from David and Peter’s Questions, which was awarded the Golden Lion at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. 21 Questions maps a universe of existential concerns, from seemingly playful enquiries – ‘Should I buy a big hammer?’, ‘What’s in a dog that enjoys lying in the sun?’ – to more psychological and philosophical conundrums – ‘Can I re-establish my innocence?’, ‘Is it dangerous to dream of another life all the time?’.
‘I recalled Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s work Questions (2002–3) during, I believe, the first lockdown, while trying to find an idiom for how we feel in such moments of deep existential crisis: daydreams triggered by seemingly banal questions that drift into the abyss of our own existence, like “What does my soul do when I am at work?” or “Can everything be thought?” Questions that on one hand seem to trace different schools of philosophical thought, and on the other epitomise the fragile delineations between sense and nonsense, life and afterlife. For me, this ICA×Artek edition by Peter Fischli and David Weiss is personal: not only because it speaks to the rupture of the past months, but also because a black T-shirt over an empty modernist stool is also a nod to a lost friend, to the lost lives of the past year and what we might learn from it.’Stefan Kalmár, Executive Director of the ICA.
Riffing on Barbara Kruger’s iteration of Stool 60, Fischli/Weiss have appropriated Kruger’s signature red for the legs, combining it with a plain white top and a black T-shirt. The result is a humorous nod to Kruger’s edition as well as to the iconoclastic colours of the Russian Suprematism art movement, with the black T-shirt as a stand-in for an absent body – together speaking to existential questions of loss and anxiety that many of us have asked ourselves over the past 12 months.
A multifarious and playful object, 21 Questions is at once a fashion item, a piece of modernist functional design and – when combined – a sculpture. These elements and modalities balance and play off one another, embodying the wit and intellect of Fischli/Weiss by transforming the commonplace into the extraordinary, fostering an absurdist sense of wonderment, and urging viewers to rediscover and re-evaluate their surroundings from renewed perspectives.
Each of the 21 stools is bespoke to this collaboration and produced in a series of 12, finished on the underside with a sticker of the selected excerpt, hand-signed and numbered. Each stool is presented alongside a signed photographic certificate of the stool in its sculptural form and an ‘instruction manual’, written by Peter Fischli, detailing how to create and best enjoy this work.
On sale NOW Price: £1,200 incl. VAT ICA Artists’ Editions online shop: ica.art/editions The stool is also available from the ICA Bookstore (The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH)
Fischli/Weiss was founded by Peter Fischli (b.1952) and David Weiss (1946-2012), who met in 1977 and began their artistic collaboration in 1979. Spanning a wide range of media, including sculpture, installation, photography and the moving image, their artwork has been the subject of many prominent solo exhibitions around the world, including shows at Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, USA (2017); the Art Institute of Chicago and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), USA (2017/18); Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland (2016); the Serpentine Gallery in London (2014); the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan (2010); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain (2009); and the ICA, London (1988); and retrospectives at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2008), the Kunsthaus Zürich (2007) and Tate Modern in London (2006). Their major solo show How to Work Better was presented at the Guggenheim in New York in 2016 and travelled to Museo Jumex in Mexico City in 2017.
Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) was a Finnish architect and designer. His work includes architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware as well as painting and sculpture, though he never regarded himself as an artist, seeing painting and sculpture as ‘branches of the tree whose trunk is architecture’. The style of his work ranged from Nordic Classicism to International Style Modernism over the span of his career, eventually evolving during the 1940s into a more organic modernist approach. Aalto approached architecture as part of a Gesamtkunstwerk, a ‘total work of art’, whereby he – together with Aino Aalto, his first wife – would design not just the building but also the interior surfaces, including furniture, lamps and glassware. His furniture designs are considered Scandinavian Modern owing to his concern for materials, especially wood, and his approach, which combined simplification with technical experimentation. Aalto received patents for various manufacturing processes, including the bentwood technique seen in Stool 60.
ICA Artists’ Editions are a unique collection of singular artworks created and fabricated especially for the ICA by some of today’s leading international artists. Encompassing everything from prints and sculpture to furniture and fashion, new Artists’ Editions are released at regular intervals. The ICA directly commissions each Artists’ Edition from each individual artist, who donate to us the finished works to support our radical and progressive programme. Recent ICA Artists’ Editions include Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Kiss) (2019), the first Stool 60 customisation created as part of ICA×Artek, the ICA’s ongoing collaboration with the Finnish furniture company. The current selection of ICA Artists’ Editions includes works by Cory Arcangel, Peter Blake, Andrea Büttner, Roger Hiorns, Jenny Holzer, Gary Hume, Bob & Roberta Smith, Frances Stark, Martine Syms, Juergen Teller, Jordan Wolfson and Cerith Wyn Evans. All ICA Artists’ Editions are exclusively available from the ICA website and from the ICA Bookstore on The Mall. www.ica.art/editions