Roman Signer

Francesca Pia

Roman Signer has made a reputation for himself as a pyrotechnician, event artist, and producer of chain reactions and controlled catastrophes. For his public and private experiments, which he documents on video, he manipulates water, fire, wind, and earth with gunpowder, fuses, and dynamite. He is a low-tech magician who makes a visible process of liberating natural forces. In an exhibit of fuses and 13 cameras at the Kunsthalle in Freiburg, Switzerland this April, for example, he exploded a canoe in which he was crossing the river—and he almost sank, too.

This exhibit contained objects that refer to his performances, but also hold their own as self-contained sculptures; they function as catalysts for the viewer’s speculations, suppositions, or memories. Each object has, according to Signer, a secret, a history, like a human being. Thus, the upright steel pipe shown here is actually a “sky

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