Roman Signer

Roman Signer, Car (installation view), 1999

Roman Signer, Car (installation view), 1999

Much of Roman Signer’s (b. 1938, Appenzeil, Switzerland) work exists only as the trace of an action. An object sinking into water, for example, or the splash that registers a fall. His materials – most notably water and sand – are ordinary, yet in the context of his performances they take on a life of their own, flowing and forming patterns in response to gravity.

At Munster in 1997 he created a Chaplinesque installation using only a water hose and a hollow walking stick. The stick hung from a wire over the lake and a jet of water was forced through its stem. The cane whipped about, creating arcs and spirals, as though wielded by an energetic phantom in a display of cinematic burlesque. Then again, it could simply have been a pragmatic fire safety demonstration, illustrating the importance of holding on to the end of the hose. The simplicity and charm of this piece is typical of Signer’s work.

Roman Signer at Liverpool Biennial 1999

, 1999
Car and sand
Courtesy of the artist and Raum Aktueller Kunst, Vienna