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.