Roman Signerartist sheet 65/72



PerformanceProcess Basel 2017-2018
sat 18 Nov 2017
Roman Signer with Stefan Rusconi (live piano, electronics et plante) - Showing of Restenfilme XXIIMusée Tinguely

Restenfilme is a cut-up of the edited scenes, outtakes and technical markings for the experimental Super 8 films produced by Signer. The projection of this montage is accompanied by live music by the pianist Stefan Rusconi.

Nachtarbeit (2017)Musée Tinguely
PerformanceProcess Paris, Centre Culturel Suisse 18.09-13.12.15
fri 18 Sep 2015
Zelt mit Fussballkanone (2015)Centre culturel suisser+33 1 42 71 44 50

Apart from his famous explosions and controlled destructions, some of Roman Signer's interventions are more like “action pieces” or “temporal sculptures”. Time and space are decisive elements, and every second counts in the process of transformation the artist seeks to set in motion.

wed 28 Oct 2015
Performance + cine-concertCentre culturel suisser+33 1 42 71 44 50

Presented in the Focus Roman Signer

Ballon mit rotem Band (2015)

Restenfilme XX (1975–1989)
Film with live soundtrack by pianist Yaron Herman (new performance).
This film is a montage of cutting-room fragments, additional footage, out-takes and location footage for Roman Signer's experimental super 8 films. The sequences reveal the inventiveness and wit of Signer's works, with their humour and cause-and-effect aesthetic. He agreed to our proposal of screening the film with a live pianist chosen by the CCS.


60 years of performance art in Switzerland museum Tinguely, 20.09.2017 - 28.01.2018

Vers la flamme - Ein Konzert mit Störung (2014, video, 8'40'')

The scene plays out on the Vernagt-Stausee reservoir in South Tyrol. Against a mountain backdrop, the young Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson plays Vers la flamme, a mystical piece by the composer Alexandre Scriabine. However, another element soon interrupts the concert...

PerformanceProcess Paris, Centre culturel suisse 18.09-13.12.15

Zündschnur (1998, 5'03'')

Video, direction: Aleksandra Signer

Boule bleue (2015)

Tube and steel ball, thread, timer

Vers la flamme — Ein Konzert mit Störung (2014, video, 8'40'')

Presented in the Focus Roman Signer

Young Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson plays Towards the Flame, Alexander Scriabin's mystic masterpiece, on a raft floating across a lake.





Born in 1938, lives in Saint-Gall.
Since the mid 1970s, Roman Signer's works have been activating and reactivating paradoxes. The micro-shows or non-events that result from each of his projects explore the economics of performance, the notion of return on investment, the obsession with efficiency, and our deep-rooted connection with functionalism. He is mainly known for his “actions” and regularly labelled a pyrotechnic artist or an “artist of explosions”. He practices performance, sculpture, drawing, installation, photography and video.







Bursting, exploding, disintegrating, manhandling, mistreating... artist Roman Signer really has a field day. ...

Bursting, exploding, disintegrating, manhandling, mistreating... artist Roman Signer really has a field day.

Roman Signer loves anomalies. Since the early 1970s he has made sculptures that study the transformation of his subjects over time and under the effects of the forces of nature. When the result is not quite what he expects, he finds it especially enjoyable and fascinating. The materials he uses are simple everyday objects: tables, chairs, buckets, barrels, bikes, suitcases, balls and balloons, ropes, elastic bands and pipes, for example. The process he exposes them to is just as simple: he propels them along using air or water. The objects float, bob along, fly, fall, freeze, burn, and sometimes, thanks to Signer's pyrotechnic skills, they explode. At the CCS, he will be playing in particular with balls and balloons in very different ways in two performances, and presenting a sculpture that will remain suspended throughout the exhibition. The helicopter is his favourite tool, with which he “practices” in his studio before using it in public.

He could not allow himself the slightest margin for technical error when he made Vers la flamme - Ein Konzert mit Störung (interrupted concert) on the shores of Lake Vernago in Italy last year. That day, a real helicopter replaced the scale model, and the mistreated object was an impressively large raft carrying a grand piano. At the keyboard was the bold young Icelandic virtuoso Víkingur Ólafsson, wearing a formal tailcoat and earmuffs. He played a piece by Alexander Scriabin composed in 1914, Vers la flamme. This performance—based on an original idea suggested by Peter Paul Kainrath, artistic director of the Transart Festival in Bolzano— should not be understood merely as an amusing balancing act. The video of Vers la flamme begins with a long shot of the piano and raft, which seem to drift, abandoned, in front of the breathtaking backdrop of the Alps: a startling, grandiose visual enigma. The first notes of Scriabin's poem echo through the natural amphitheatre. At the climax of the piece, the helicopter appears in shot, then flies into the distance to applause from the small group of spectators.

The clarity of the method used is coherent with Signer's very early work, which involved creating an ephemeral fountain by setting off an explosion on the bed of a shallow river (Wassersäule, 1976/77) or making a video of a plastic bag bursting above a snow-covered field (Windsack, 1980), for example. These somewhat complex images, with their historical, cultural, environmental and autobiographical references, find an echo in more recent works and show how his entire artistic output has evolved. Scriabin's piece, written at the beginning of the First World War, a year before he died, illustrates the composer's mystical romanticism and seems to reflect his conviction that the world was about to perish in flames. Scriabin's raw, apocalyptic vision clashes with Signer's clearly anti-romantic attitude, tinged with absurdity and dark humour, and his fascination with the brevity of life and the violence of the forces of nature. This work also reminds us of the importance of music in Signer's life—his father was, in fact, a professional musician. It evokes a childhood memory where he met two travellers in a forest listening to classical music on an old gramophone. This situation then inspired Signer's own conception of nature as a studio. Echoing this interest in music, the CCS has asked Roman Signer to screen Restenfilme XX in the form of a film with live music. The film comprises a montage of unused and supplementary footage, outtakes and location scouting. As there is no action as such, the music is free to create a stimulating presence. Signer agreed, and delegated the choice of musician to the CCS, which suggested the virtuoso pianist Yaron Herman. Expect an explosive artistic encounter!


Rachel Withers