Roman Signer

The artistic events that Roman Signer constructs for us are based on process, play, experiment, and wonder. His materials are elemental physical phenomena—observations all the more astonishing in view of the humor that informs this artist’s oeuvre. It is an extremely subtle brand of humor yet to be discovered by the art world. The serenity, clarity, and lightness of Signer’s actions impress us. They are devoid of the tautological leadenness of certain art in the seventies that agonized righteously in an attempt to demonstrate that water flows and a chair is a chair.

Signer’s gestures are not heroic, although, appearing as a dramaturge of suspense, he causes an explosive release, even a psychosensual detonation. He does not fill the expected role of the ingenious, individualist artist; in every situation, he is, and remains, the ironic, modest Homo faber. We may admire Signer’s skillful manipulation of dynamite. When an exploding umbrella shoots into the ceiling and stays there without blowing up the entire building, the charge is so precisely calculated that his audience gasps in relief.

A poetic, anarchist gaze is suddenly aimed at the world — at things and their relations — and it shatters ancient but unrecognized shackles of perception. Roman Signer, a sculpturally oriented artist, draws attention to an object by discovering and releasing its startling, unsuspected potential. We know about the possibilities of ordinary spray cans and rubber boots and bicycles and kitchen chairs, but we also learn how limited are both the horizon of our knowledge and our relationship to the things of this world!

Bice Curriger, 1996