Roman Signer

12 April 1998

Ventilators, wood and wheels 120 x 108 x 60 cm Courtesy: Frac Bourgogne

The reduction of the object to its most elementary essence, to the basic components defining its nature and configuring its shape, is at the basis of Roman Signer’s Wagen. Here, we could say that the artist deals with the basic notion of the vehicle: four wheels plus an element generating energy of some kind that produces motion. The usual ingredients in Signer’s work are visible in this piece: object, movement, energy. With an absolute economy of means, the artist confronts us with the concepts we deploy to structure our relationship with objects, and in this specific case with the automobile and with the very notion of self-propulsion: form, design, usefulness, function, control, speed. Spectators are thus questioned about the true nature of the vehicle they have in front of their eyes (Is it really a vehicle? Is it drivable? What is it for?), thus bringing to the surface the mechanisms implicit in our relationship with the goods around us. The ambiguity of the fan plays a major role in our response to the prototype: it is a source of energy, but, is it also the wheel?