Roman Signer «Rockets» 1982-1995.

submitted on Thu, 2006-04-13 15:22.

Action for the opening of Museum St. Gallen, 1987
videotape still.

In another instance «Signer is standing on the snow, wearing a woollen cap, the pointed end of which is attached by a long wire to a fireworks rocket: the explosion and takeoff of the rocket abruptly pull off the head-covering. The compelling strength of Signer's art lies in its complete obedience to the circumstances and structural rules laid down for his actions. Signer calls the slight modifications of a given state 'poetic events.' Poetic in the literal sense of poiesis, man-made creation, and not in its vaguely profound and emotional sense. The radical, factual simplicity of Signer's actions is the very source of their fascinating energy.» ~ Marie Louise Leinhard.

Action for the opening of Museum St. Gallen, 1987
videotape still.

Roman Signer, 1995
performance, De Apple, Netherlands.

Rheinfluegel, Munich.

Stool with Rockets, 1984
Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna.

Explosion, 1982
Gallery Hauser and Wirth, Switzerland.





Signer's moving everyday objects and motorized vehicles are regarded as a representative of an expanded concept of sculpture and work and has meanwhile become a role model for a younger generation of artists. His dynamic, sensitive and even mad sculptures that develop in the fourth dimension – of time – are by no means relics of performances, but rather precisely choreographed. The essence of the event determines the form, and even processes that only last a few moments become action or time sculptures.

Installation in the forest, Summer 2004
Steel, plexiglass tube, blower, rocket.

Boot with Rocket, 1995
compressed air tank, rubber boot, ball
Galerie Hauser and Wirth, Switzerland.

Signer gives a humorous twist to the concept of cause and effect and to the traditional scientific method of experimentation and discovery, taking on the self-evidence of scientific logic as an artistic challenge.


Signer presents moments-long video works documenting his 'action sculptures.' In Stiefel mit Rakete (1995) he attaches a rocket to a boot pinned to a tree. The rocket ignites, the boot pinwheels, the flare sputters and then quickly dies.


«The question here is more of time-images as Gilles Deleuze calls them, or accidents of time, which harness the event not as form, that is, movement or temporal passage, but as a nonmaterial, nonchronological intensity, an 'explosantefixe' (fixed-explosive), in the words of Andre Breton. The accident as contemporary temporality is presented as time that endures, an instant that persists (outside of its representation), a temporal shock wave that branches, spreads, propagates itself.» ~ Olivier Zahm, ArtForum, 1993.

Rocket in the Woods, 1978
black and white photograph
Galerie Hauser and Wirth, Switzerland.