The two protagonists of this video production ask themselves existential questions such as: How does one become an artist? The film is both a satire of the art world and an allegory of the new generation of emerging artists. Having settled in Los Angeles, Fischli and Weiss, disguised as a bear and a rat, ramble through this world driven by money, questioning the role of the artist within this capitalist society. They offer an ironic commentary on the often stereotyped vision of artistic success.
The booklet Ordnung und Reinlichkeit (Order and Cleanliness), written by the two authors, the Bear and the Rat, appears at the end of the film. In it, we see the outcomes and the writing of the first structures. In an attempt at a global categorisation of the world, they deliver an off-beat critical interpretation of the perpetual quest to oversimplify human beings. With diagrams, sketches and keywords, the artists humorously ponder this constant need to classify everything and to link each individual to her typical profile, reminiscent of certain values dear to the Swiss. Through a schematic approach, Ordnung und Reinlichkeit conveys the naivety of the determination to understand the world in which we evolve.
The 2003 edition, made up of twelve, numbered Xerox photocopies, is a reproduction of the 1980-1981 original. The particularly poor quality of the material links this artwork to the notion of banality which is a constant element in the artists’ approach. Questioning the status of the creator and the concept of identity, Fischli and Weiss introduce derision as the mainspring of creativity. Without however confining themselves to pure parody, they express with tenderness their own concerns. As David Weiss confirmed in 2006, their aim was to achieve the “simultaneousness of irony and seriousness”. As to their means, it often boils down to developing their own formal language, independent of all artistic norms.