An iconic mural towers over the intersection of New York’s Houston and Mott Streets, a 50-foot-tall piece produced in tandem with the Guggenheim’s exhibition “Peter Fischli and David Weiss: How to Work Better.” The simple, ten-point list is one that is not uncommon, in fact it is one often encountered in artists’ studios and offices tacked up as a reminder of effective work patterns and collaboration.
The readymade work is an adaptation of a list the artists discovered in a ceramics factory in Thailand three decades ago. Critic John Kelsey notes in the exhibitions’s catalogue that, “Taken from a factory in Thailand and displayed in a supremely wealthy nation with one of the strictest immigration policies in Europe, the text becomes an ironic reflection on the way things go for commuter drones within a productively mobilized post-society, some of whom happen to be artists and curators: ‘SMILE.’”
Even observed without the history of the mural, the piece speaks to the modern notion of always being busy, a reminder to slow down rather than rush through each subsequent task. The mural is a collaboration between the Public Art Fund, Fischli, and Guggenheim curators Nancy Spector and Nat Trotman.