Nick Hackworth

Roman Signer X, Camden Arts Centre

Essays & Reviews Evening Standard

This exhibition represents the worst excesses of conceptual art. In the three large and pleasant galleries that make up the Camden Arts Centre, Swiss artist Roman Signer has deposited a series of works that resemble the creations of a deranged DIY enthusiast with a penchant for Alpine imagery.

Which is, perhaps, what they are.

The first gallery is filled with a variety of pieces. One consists of an electric fan fanning a live Christmas tree. Another is a strip of sand, at the end of which stands a set of skis. Another is a wooden box into which you clamber and then stick your head into an attached fireproof helmet. In the adjoining gallery a video piece presents us with the view from a camera attached to a log floating down a river. The final gallery is filled with an array of large model helicopters. In the middle of the room sits a contraption for enveloping Christmas trees in white synthetic net- ting.Several of the helicopters sit, forlornly, wrapped in the netting.

If only Signer had enveloped himself in the netting and then thrown himself into the river that he has so pedantically recorded, he would have saved us the trouble of searching for value and meaning where there clearly is none.

His works make no pretence to be aesthetically pleasing. They do, however, pompously present themselves as conceptually significant. But the concepts that Signer deals with are perversely insignificant or just dull, such as: alternative viewpoints (the floating camera piece); the relationship between the artificial and natural (the fan and the Christmas tree) and the importance of looking after your model helicopter collection.

All to often people viewing art will give it the benefit of the doubt. They assume that since someone has gone to the trouble of doing something, however idiotic it appears, that there must be a point to it. Well, they’re wrong. Sometimes there is no point and less value. This is one of those times.

Until 3 February. Tel: 020 7435 2643