228. ROCK ON TOP OF ANOTHER ROCK by PETER FISCHLI and DAVID REISS
Walking past trim railings and flanked by tidy grass, you are shepherded along Kensington Gardens' neat paths. And then you come across 2 gigantic boulders approximately 5.5 metres high, which seem to be balanced on top of one another. The title tells you nothing. It is what it is. Not a word about construction and destruction, oscillation and stability.
You touch or stroke the work. It is pitted and veined and awesome: some granite is said to be more than 4 billion years old. Compare that with most art, often made of contemporary materials; some may even last a few fleeting seconds. The Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss are known for their witty sense of the absurd and their power to startle us into taking a fresh look at our surroundings with art which feels both incongruous and commonplace.
For we have one of these already - Logan Rock at Treen, the bay next to Porthcurno, of Minack Theatre fame. It's balanced on the top of of one of the pinnacles of this promontory. It's much loved. In the 19C a gang of macho soldiers led by a nephew of the playwright Oliver Goldsmith managed to dislodge it and was made to put it back asap at considerable expense.
Rock On Top Of Another Rock is the first UK commission for the artists and is organised by the Serpentine Gallery, The Royal Parks and Modus Operandi. It currently serves a particular purpose. The Serpentine Gallery is closed for refurbishment until June 8, when the Pavilion designed by Sou Fujimoto opens. When a loved institution is closed for refurbishment, it's impossible to spread the news world wide among all intending visitors. (As families and groups alighting at Lambeth North tube station in the hope of visiting the Imperial War Museum are currently finding (reopens 29 July)). Rock On Top Of Another Rock, situated close to the entrance to the gallery, gives a focus.
If you like the artists' zany sense of humour, one of their best known works is the short film The Way Things Go (Der Lauf Der Dinge). It's about chain reactions and the astonishing way objects fly, crash and explode across a studio. Intriguing and fun for all ages..