Art, Innovation

Roman Pfeffer: “Brain Twister”

Sounding things out for their possibilities and asking what they could be, but aren’t - this is the task that the artist Roman Pfeffer also set himself for his "Brain Twister" project. This is how he deconstructs a rowboat from the 1970s....

Roman Pfeffer - © Roman Pfeffer

"Adjustment, rearrangement, transformation and displacement are recurring themes in Roman Pfeffer’s art. The materials that go into making his works of art are often normal consumer items which the artist removes from their original context and subjects to a process of transformation. With an ironic undertone and a reduced stylistic idiom, he changes all sorts of everyday items in order to question their meaning and create new ways of looking at things." (Margarita Thurn, curator)

Video Transcript:

Creativity to some extent is a misnomer. What interests me more is innovation. And this is why in my work I repeatedly question things that exist and explore the new opportunities in them. Opportunities to think differently, i.e. something is something that it actually isn’t, but it could be. For example the boat in this case, where the boat was an eight, a competition rowing boat in fact, which was used as the Austrian rowing boat at the 1972 Olympics. And by being incorporated into art it is given a new function. The boat is strictly speaking a means of transport. You travel on water. And I turned it into a means of flying so to speak. I made a propeller from the boat.

What also interested me is body size. It is practically impossible to manage this large thing alone. So how this long boat relates to one’s own body. Because it is so long and because I made something that turns, that moves and is found in nature, there are various factors at play here: we have the wind which is an influencing factor, we have the static issue, the stability issue with the boat – the boat, this long thing, is only placed on a small ball bearing. And then obviously I had to build my design, and I went to a locksmith and said “This is what it looks like, this is my sketch.” And he said to me: “I won’t weld that for you!” So then I went to a friend who is a sculptor and who can also weld, and he said: “Yes of course, we can weld that.”

So as an artist you don’t always consider these risks, you rather accept them because you want to implement a project, and whether you will survive or not is a question that is rarely asked. In the run up to the first tests I was a little concerned that it could tip over, that my neck could be torn off. It is only sixty centimeters wide – it is mind-bogglingly long but not very wide – and it is exactly at eye level, so I can’t see out, I cannot see what is happening outside, and this is how I arrived at the title of “brain twister”. You are sealed off in your machine, which turns around you. We carried out many tests where people push started it, but what I really wanted was this picture, where I stand there alone and the boat turns by itself, powered by the wind. And on this basis we managed one turn.

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