Videos by Roman Pfeffer
Vienna contemporary, 2015, 2:46 min
“The Collector” Roman Pfeffer as he cuts Aldo Giannotti’s work out of the exhibition bunk unannounced at Vienna Contemporary 2015.
At the Vienna Contemporary art fair, Aldo Gianotti draws a chainsaw on the wall of the exhibition bunk and puts the words ‘This drawing can be taken for free if the collector comes with a chainsaw and saws the piece off the wall’ underneath.
Roman Pfeffer takes the instruction seriously and cuts until he is finally stopped….
Waiting, 2011, 3:18 min
The short video “Waiting” from 2011, looped without a recognisable beginning and end, shows the artist as a waiter. He holds two glasses in his hand, two off-screen water hoses continually fill them and cause them to overflow. The static camera demands running images, but the artist stands frozen and imprisoned in the corset of propriety; there is no plot development and no narrative depiction. In “Waiting”, Roman Pfeffer describes an attitude between concentration and compulsion, “the manifestation of a certain moment that results in a standstill – actually a state”. Expectations of art, artist and medium are not fulfilled here, the time-image becomes a governor of denial.
The Last Supper, 2009, 1:20 min
Cooperation project “The Last Supper” with Aldo Giannotti, 2009, he transforms well-known motifs from art and cultural history. With its change of state and reinterpretation, the work becomes a metaphor for questions about change, the passage of time and rhythm.
The motif is reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”, which is considered a milestone of Renaissance painting due to its depth of perspective. Roman Pfeffer gives a new twist to the seemingly familiar motif of the – still empty – table. After a moment of silence – a sequence of about 30 seconds – movement enters the picture in a flash for a second and at the same time the room is filled with a loud clattering.
13 white plates, 13 glasses, 13 sets of cutlery fall from above onto the table and shatter with a loud noise – then absolute silence returns. As soon as the rocking movement of the last shards has frozen, the image goes out and starts again. The video thematises the meal – suggested by the image of the table – as a ritual act, in which Jesus’ statement “One of you will betray me” symbolically introduces a new twist.
“The Last Supper” is a manifestation of a specific moment that changes the situation and documents a new state. The viewer is taken by surprise, the speed of the action leaves little time to reflect on what is seen, the familiar aspects come together like the shards to form a new image.
Brain Twister (Autogyrocopter), 2015, 2:25 min
In the work, Brain Twister (Autogyrocopter), Pfeffer works with a 17.5-metre-long wooden rowing boat, depriving it of its original function. In the middle of Vienna’s Prater, the artist stands on a pedestal and places the boat on his head. With the help of the wind, the rowing boat slowly turns around its own axis. Through this seemingly simple intervention, the boat is transformed into a propeller.
Even though Pfeffer’s interventions often make a sober and simple impression, the re-functioning of the boat involved a great deal of effort. The result is a whimsical and at the same time beautiful image that releases poetic associations in the viewer.
The Restricted Conference, 2011, 6 min
Cooperation project Roman Pfeffer/Markus Hofer
It was not foreseeable that the current situation of chronic restriction or even cancellation of meetings would give this work a surprising topicality. The first scene of the film shows an empty room. A functional conference table spreads out on a worn wooden floor: lacquered wooden top, two solid metal legs, four openings for cabling, a push-button telephone. That’s all, no chairs. In the back wall, however, a row of sockets: what was negotiated at this table was to be connectable, was to have an effect into the distance. No doubt, important decisions were made here. Finally, both artists step in, quickly changing close-ups accompany their practised hand movements and cast a spell. Calculatingly, they measure. As if it were a show trial or a ritualised execution, the destructive work takes its course. Nothing connects this form of dismantling with the blind aggression of the Viennese actionists Friedrich Achleitner and Gerhard Rühm, who smashed a piano on an open stage in April 1959 amid deafening noise. Roman Pfeffer and Markus Hofer are not concerned with vandalism, but with transformation. We watch this act from the distant proximity of a scientist. Via camera and without sound, the observer status is oriented towards purely visual experience. Sparks of white flames spray as the hacksaw starts. Glue dripping with teeth indicates the turn. At the end, the table has disappeared, but there is no shattered debris in front of us. Instead, we see two identical chairs and the telephone. Only the round openings in their backrests and some unadorned edges betray their genesis from second-hand material and remind us of the fictitious paper worlds of a Thomas Demand.
Untiteld, 2006, 4:18 min
A little story about the idea: He who digs himself a hole….