Atmende Säule / Breathing Pillar
Swiss artist Roman Signer created Breathing Pillar for the first Bochumer Bildhauersymposium. Looking back on the 1979/80 event, it not only created much fodder for discussion, but also was responsible for several pioneering sculptures in the public space. The Swiss artist is known for blowing up the concept of classical sculpture and expanding it into something more ephemeral and process based. Breathing Pillar is another example of how his work can express a constant state of change.
To make the sculpture, one stainless steel tube was placed inside of another, so that it could move up and down in a “breathing” motion. For it to function, there are two catch basins that look like pavilions on either side of it, designed to collect rainwater and direct it into the pillar through a system of pipes. The silver tube on the inside rises as water pressure increases. Once it has reached a certain point, the water can finally flow out of a valve in the upper section and the tube can sink back down.
As such, the breathing movement is irregular and depends on rainfall. This interplay of chance and controlled process is what makes the sculpture particularly appealing. The viewer is waiting for a planned event, but there is no way to predict when it will happen.
Breathing Pillar was the first public sculpture commissioned by the now distinguished sculptor, draftsman, filmmaker, performance artist, and conceptual artist.
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