Roman Signer: 56Small Helicopters (56 Kleine Helikopter)

On View September 2–October 30, 2011


Roman Signer is best known for his videos and photographs of rockets, catapults, and staged explosion and combustion events.  This video, purchased with funds from the Contemporary Associates of the Museum, shows a squadron of 56 remote-controlled toy helicopters.  They rise into the air, collide with each other, carom off the ceiling and walls, and finally die in mechanical spasms on the floor. The effect is both humorous and disturbing, as the toys seem to transform into a swarm of gigantic insects intent on their own self-destruction.

Signer’s unique body of work is described by Aimee Walleston (Art in America, 9/30/10): At the age of 72, Swiss artist Roman Signer makes work that seeks to unbind normative space and time…. His film, video and photographic works deal with their natural settings and give little pause to contemplate the urban rumblings of the world at large. The body of this practice comprises simple, elegant forms, animated and detonated to elucidate the cinematic ideas of suspense, climax and conclusion. His best-known works are Super 8 films and video wherein the artist stages a spectacular event…or makes a banal moment spectacular in its slapstick simplicity.

Image Credit: Roman Signer, Swiss, born 1938. 56 Small Helicopters (56 Kleine Helikopter).  2008. Single channel video. Purchased with funds from the Contemporary Associates. Running time: 3 minutes 15 seconds.