City Gallery

Past exhibition

Peter Roehr: Film Montages

16 March–2 July 2015

German artist Peter Roehr died in 1968, aged just 23. During his tragically brief career, he produced a remarkable body of works employing appropriation and repetition. Holger Liebs says, ‘His contemporaries did not immediately recognise the quality of Roehr’s work. Roehr’s series, with their dogged, tautological order, were in many ways so much in step with the trends of their times—among them the aesthetics of information theory, structuralism, and minimal art—that their peculiarity long remained overlooked.’ Bridging pop and minimalism, Roehr’s film montages (1965) loop short excerpts of found footage: shampoo commercials, wrestlers, cars on highways, petrol-station signs. Roehr wrote: ‘I change material by repeating it unchanged. The message is the behaviour of the material in response to the frequency of its repetition.’ On the one hand, these films are frustrating, suggesting that time is either attenuated or stuck; on the other hand, they foreground the pleasure of sheer repetition. Roehr’s generic, anonymous clips take on a new affective scale; the contingent and banal becoming definitive and monumental, even mythic.