(b. 1938 in Appenzell, Switzerland) is principally a visual artist who works in sculpture, installations photography, and video. He holds degrees from arts institutions in Switzerland and Poland. He studied at the Schule für Gestaltung in Zurich and Lucerne between 1966 and 1971. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland from 1971-1972. His work has been shown at galleries and museums in Europe, North America and Asia over the last thirty years. In 2008 Signer was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize.
Signer’s “action sculptures” involve setting up, carrying out, and recording “experiments” or events that bear aesthetic results. Following carefully planned and strictly executed and documented procedures, the artist enacts and records such acts as explosions, collisions, and the projection of objects through space. Video works like Stiefel mit Rakete (Boot with Rocket) are integral to Signer’s performances, capturing the original setup of materials that self-destruct in the process of creating an emotionally and visually compelling event. 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. A recent example of his installation work was “Accident as sculpture” (Unfall als Skulptur)(2008) in which Signer had a three-wheeled delivery car, loaded with water barrels, roll down an 11 m high ramp and up the other side. At the apex, the vehicle overturned and crashed to the ground. The resulting chaotic arrangement constituted the exhibition at de:Kunstraum Dornbirn.
A collaborative film from 1996 with director Peter Liechti titled “Signer’s Koffer” (English: “Signer’s Suitcase”) documents a series of his “action sculptures” along with interviews of Roman Signer and other characters encountered during his travels performing the work.