Institute of Contemporary Arts, London x Artek/

Institute of Contemporary Arts, London x Artek presents 21 Questions, Stool 60 by Fischli / Weiss

The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, presents Fischli/Weiss’s 21 Questions (2021), 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.  

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?’. 

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. 

About Institute of Contemporary Arts, London & Artek/

Founded in 1946 by a collective of artists, poets and their supporters, the Institute of Contemporary Arts is an independent organisation and registered charity which supports the most pressing debates in contemporary culture. 

Artek was founded in Helsinki in 1935 by four young idealists: Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils-Gustav Hahl. Their goal was ‘to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living by exhibitions and other educational means.’ In keeping with the radical spirit of its founders, Artek remains an innovative player in the world of modern design, developing new products at the intersection of design, architecture and art.
Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) was a Finnish architect, designer and founding member of Artek. His furniture designs are considered Scandinavian Modern, owing to his concern for materials, especially wood, and his approach, which combined simplification with technical experimentation. 

Image credit: Fischli/Weiss, 21 Questions, Stool 60, 2021, Design Alvar Aalto, ICA × Artek, Image: Todd-White Art Photography

Fischli/Weiss, 21 Questions, Stool 60