When summer comes, the lawnmowers set off on their rounds. The same is true in the Kunsthaus Zug – within a well-defined space, measured out by a robot lawnmower on the bare floor. Where there’s a lawnmower but no lawn, Roman Signer can’t be far away. 2019 will see the second large-scale solo exhibition devoted to him since 2009, and it will take place in the exhibition spaces of the Kunsthaus and beyond it. It signifies a further step in a long-standing collaboration. Seesicht (Lake View), Signer’s architectonic sculpture that stands prominently in the basin of Lake Zug, has become a landmark of the city. Thanks to generous donations by Christine Kamm, her husband Peter, and the artist himself, the Kunsthaus Zug is proud to own the most comprehensive collection of Signer’s works. This exhibition is thus part of the “Project: Collection” by which the Kunsthaus Zug engages in long-standing collaborations with international artists, far removed from any monetary incentives.
When the lawnmower does its rounds in the museum next summer and a little bell waits to be nudged by it, it’s perhaps a passing bell that tolls – after the playful fashion for which Signer is known. But perhaps it’s also a bell intended to wake us up. It’s only when it’s observed that a lawnmower can become art. Signer’s works always have something underdetermined about them. They explain themselves only inasmuch as this is necessary to stimulate our imagination.
Signer’s sculptures are his words, he says: a lawnmower and a chair, a boot, an umbrella and a kayak. He develops processual assemblages in ever new combinations to create new works. And the “words” keep turning into new sentences. In order for these to function, they sometimes need water, wind, fire or sand; and they always need the participation of the visitor to open the artist’s gaze onto the absurdities of human existence.
These works to be exhibited in Zug are new, never before presented in Switzerland. And it’s the calmer aspects of Signer’s oeuvre that will be shown. Whoever likes the “explosive” Signer will still find his humour in these new works, even if it approaches us gently. Extravagance is just one aspect of Signer, his conceptual superstructure another. And these works also possess a tender poetry that touches the very basis of our humanity.
Curated by Matthias Haldemann