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Roman Signer

October 10 – December 4, 2013
6:30 – 10:00 PM daily
High Line Channel 22, Seating Steps, on the High Line at West 22nd Street

Swiss artist Roman Signer is renowned for his sculptural investigations of explosive natural forces, such as combustion, friction, and surges of water, which he often captures on film. Signer repurposes everyday objects, such as kayaks, fireworks, and pieces of furniture, in unexpected ways, having them star in deadpan and humorous quasi-scientific experiments. Though carefully planned and meticulously executed, the artist’s actions remain subject to chance, a tension that imbues Signer’s work with an inherent vulnerability. Signer’s performative actions and ephemeral sculptural  arrangements, documented using the more permanent medium of film, underscore the mutability of the materials and objects he involves, which reminds us of the fragility of human existence.

For the High Line, Signer presents his celebrated 8mm film Kayak. In the short work, Signer sits in a blue kayak clad in a black leather motorcycle jacket and a white helmet. Rather than commence his journey in the water, a truck tows Signer on a dry road as the bottom of the kayak is slowly scraped away. As Signer is dragged along a Swiss country road, a herd of dairy cows gallop alongside him, as if captivated by the surreal scene. By decontextualizing the familiar, Signer expands, in a humorously subversive and poetic vein, our view of the world.

Photos by Timothy Schenck, Courtesy of Friends of the High Line. 

Roman Signer

Roman Signer (b. 1938, Switzerland) is renowned for his deadpan sculptural installations and performative video works which document the transformative quality of everyday objects and materials. Notable solo exhibitions and screenings include Rice University Art Gallery, Houston (2013); Kunsthalle Mainz, Mainz (2012); Häusler Contemporary, Munich (2012); Switzerland Institute of Modern Art, Zürich (2011); and the Swiss Institute, New York (2010). Signer represented Switzerland at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999. Retrospectives of Signer’s work were organized in 2000 at the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht and in 1990 at the Galerie Agathe Nisple, St. Gallen, travelling to the Galerie Stampa, Basel. Signer’s work has also been included in a number of important group exhibitions, the most recent including EYE Film Institute, Amsterdam (2013); Swiss Institute, New York (2013); South London Gallery, London (2013); and the Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich (2012). His sculptures are also displayed in public spaces in Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany.

Program Partner

High Line Art is presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Major support for High Line Art comes from Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and the Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, with additional funding provided by David Zwirner Gallery and Vital Projects Fund, Inc. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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