The Enigmatic and Ever-Playful Artist Urs Fischer Shows Us His Camera Roll

Published April 25, 2019

Among the white walls of the galleryverse, the artist Urs Fischer’s works are colorful, colossal, ever playful, and always a little enigmatic. From a towering bust of Katy Perry filled with modeling clay to a painting of Liz Taylor covered with a kiwi, Fischer infuses each of his projects with his signature dose of acrid humor and child-like playfulness. His latest venture is no exception; his exhibition PLAY, on view at Jeffrey Deitch in Los Angeles beginning today, centers around nine office chairs that, with the help of AI technology, zoom around the space, darting toward and away from visitors with mercurial minds of their own.

Ephemera is the stuff of Fischer’s artistic toolkit, so it only makes sense that his iPhone is filled with snapshots of his two pet rats, shadow puppets, and a puddle on a dirty warehouse floor. The artist, who splits his time between LA and New York, is a bit of a stranger to social media — “I don’t have time. I have no desire,” he says. Luckily for us, he opened the vault of his iPhone to share the fleeting moments of sheer oddity that encompass his everyday life.

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“That is my daughter in the morning. It was the morning surprise. She came to wake me up and then she made these shadows onto her drawings. I never thought of it. Usually you make the shadow on wall. That was just really imaginative of her to kind of make these things.

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That was in Harmony Korine’s studio in Miami about two or three weeks ago. I went to Harmony, and then he gave me that painting and then I made a photo of it. The painting is now in my bedroom.”

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I went to a little foundry like outside LA. It’s like a little family business run by the mother, a dad. and the son, and they’re very Christian — or very Catholic, I assume. They had all these statues and figurines, and it just looked so crazy in this industrial, dirty warehouse space. And then above this crazy ventilation kind of looked like some kind of divine machine. I just thought it was kind of beautiful.”

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“I was in Paris for the Louis Vuitton Show at the Louvre. This is a Milo sculpture. There was one in Zurich where I grew up, and I always liked it. I think there’s even one in MoMA in New York. It’s a very strange sculpture. There’s something classical about it, but it’s also the beginning of the end, or the beginning of something new. It’s almost like this figure that falls off its pedestal. It ties into the situation we feel we are in now — at the end of something or at the beginning. We don’t really know.”

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“We have two pet rats. They’re really smart. They’re such awesome creatures. They hang with us on the couch and they watch TV. They’re actually very clean. They poop in their toilet, and they’re much smarter than most animals. That’s just one of the rats on my daughter’s foot. I recommend everybody to get some pet rats. There was a book that came out about 15 years ago about rats, and it was about the different populations of rats in New York. They came in ships from here, from there, and it was about this hierarchy of rats, and what level they can inhabit in the city. Some are much better off then others. So it’s kind of like the immigration also happened with rats around the world in poor cities. I was reading this pro rat book when my daughter said,’I want a rat.’ It took two years, but at some point I said, ‘Okay, let’s get a rat.’ And since then I have to say they’re the best pets I’ve ever had.”

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“That’s Luna. Luna is watching Our Planet, listening to [David] Attenborough explaining about caterpillars, and the impact of humans on this planet. The other is named Aniko. I think it’s the Hungarian name of Anna. I yesterday read when rats dream they go through what they went through a labyrinth during the day, the stuff replays. It’s just how they figure things out just like us.”

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“That’s a cemetery for toys that we have. There was one of those toys called Moj Moj. The paint came off of Moj Moj, and that was the reason we had the funeral. The white fluffy thing is the Holy Spirit or the ghost that’s also attending the funeral.”

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That’s an industrial place where there was a water puddle, kind of on a dirty warehouse floor of these people that did some metal work. That water was running towards me and I was standing inside, and then the whole sky was reflected in the puddle. I made a photo and I got closer with the camera, and then this telephone pole was reflected in it. It just looked nice how that water came towards me. I just took it on my iPhone. All you have  to do is crouch down on the floor.”