“My work is like a game. A serious game.”
Wood, water, sheet metal, lead, explosives, rubber, acid, sand, gravity, rockets, gunpowder, and fire. Swiss artist Roman Signer’s work explores the relationships between sudden energy releases and calmness, between order and chaos, and the existence of form in the apparently formless.

“What fascinates me is that a force makes my sculpture. I only arrange things, and then a stone might fall, or the bike hits the beams, and then the sculpture is finished. A force has manifested itself in the sculpture.”
Signer has been redefining sculpture for over 40 years and is now regarded as one of the finest process and conceptual art representatives. He produces elementary dynamic sculptures and installations, also known as time sculptures, for their preoccupation with transforming materials and objects through time.
As a young student, he vacillated between becoming an architect or an artist.

“I realized that sculpture interested me more because you don’t have the same constraints architects have. The economic constraints and the functional constraints. Sculpture is less constrained. I wanted to do sculpture because there’s not a reason behind it that requires a certain order and a set procedure.”

Signer gives a humorous twist to the concept of cause and effect and the traditional scientific method of experimentation and discovery. He is taking on the self-evidence of scientific logic as an artistic challenge using everyday objects, such as umbrellas, bottles, tables, chairs, and candles, through a process guided by curiosity and discipline. Like the director of a thriller, he uses tension and surprise.
Growing up by the mountain river Sitter in Appenzell, Switzerland, Signer spent his childhood and youth playing and experimenting in the river, observing it changing during the shifting seasons. In his works, water and kayaks are a common theme. “I have a pretty strong connection to water. Which doesn’t mean I’m a great swimmer. But you don’t need that for kayaking.”

Roman Signer (1938) was born in Appenzell, Switzerland. He studied at the Schule für Gestaltung, Zurich, Switzerland, 1966; at the Schule für Gestaltung, Lucerne, Switzerland, 1969 – 1971; and at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, Poland, 1971 – 1972. His work has been presented in numerous museums and galleries worldwide. It has been selected for prestigious international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, where he represented Switzerland in 1999, Skulptur Projekte Münster (1997) as well as Documenta 8 in Kassel, where during ‘Action in front of the Orangerie’ he catapulted 350.000 sheets of paper into the air simultaneously with an explosive charge.

Roman Signer was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in connection with his solo exhibition at Malmö Konsthall in 2023.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Additional footage from the film Signers Koffer by Peter Liechti
Edited by: Signe Boe Pedersen
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.