Two dogs, forced to stay behind a net, fix a specific point with particular attention and interest. They do this action for about thirty grueling minutes. At the beginning they generate frustration due to the impossibility of seeing the object of their desire but then it seems they give the canche for reflection on the very act of looking and being looked at.

The observer seems to be in a privileged position: it is us who watch the dogs, plus we are not behind any net. Soon our freedom turns into a state of helplessness that is even more frustrating than the one in which dogs seem to live. The first few minutes pass waiting for something more to be shown to us, for our gaze to coincide with that of the animals, but no, we remain in our position. But slowly our thinking goes from frustration to a kind of meditative state. Why are we so willing to see what dogs are looking at? Can’t we just look at their faces? Why do the artistic duo force us to this observation point?

Fischli & Weiss are simply forcing us to rethink the daily life: Hunde is the rediscovery of a new way of perceiving time and gaze. The longer the projection time passes, the more we detach ourselves from the object of desire of dogs and their muzzles become a surface on which we can let go our thoughts and our gaze. The two artists, leading the observer to exhaustion, then manage to free him from the desire to analyze and decipher reality in all its aspects. The viewer is therefore brought back to contemplation, which is not strictly necessary to have an objective of knowledge.
So the approach to these small dogs change: the viewers’ gaze on them is now different, like having new eyes. It is possible to contemplate the animals in their simplicity without having to know more than what is given.

Act of surrender or act of realization, Hunde in any case manages to trigger a reversal in which the banality of everyday life strikes us in an unexpected and disruptive way: by slowing down our desire, the artists return us to a new contemplation. The beauty remains in the suspension and expectation, ours and that of the dogs.


Peter Fischli & David Weiss,
Hunde (Dogs), 2003
Single-channel video, colour, sound, 29 min 50 s
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium. Gift of Peter Fischli & David Weiss
© Peter Fischli & David Weiss