Dieter Roth
Reykjavik Slides, 1973-1975 / 1990-1998
Dieter Roth (1930 - 1998)
Reykjavik Slides, 1973-1975 / 1990-1998
31,000 slides, 3 wooden shelves, 8 slide projectors
Variable dimensions

Dieter Roth was a German-Swiss artist who has proved to be hugely influential in Post-War modern art. His work is at once expressive and playful, often taking everyday materials and objects and transforming them through acts that embrace both destruction and creation. Roth epitomized the avant-garde ideal of blurring the borders between art and life, and the accumulation of everyday materials. The construction of expansive installations and the subsequent decomposition of works made with chocolate, cheese, and sausages indicates his interest in process over product, where the work of life continued to change. As one obituarist wrote, Roth made “pictures of downfalls, large or small.” 1 But to Roth himself the falling apart of things just showed how they simply continued to develop, works that continued to live beyond the studio.

Throughout his life, Dieter Roth maintained a home and studio in Iceland alongside one in Switzerland. The work Reykjavik Slides is a unique installation in his oeuvre that demonstrates something of his fascination with the quotidian and his adopted home. As with the exhibited works, it is a survey which expands beyond the limits of the individual image, while providing no real hierarchy between the beautiful, the ordinary, and the dilapidated among every view of the city. Roth described that when he embarked on his endeavor the city was “an architectural wonder” where: “The people took what they needed from the demolished buildings in town and built new buildings where they lived. And because they were thrifty and didn’t have any money, they left the paint the way it was on the corrugated iron, which resulted in absolutely wonderful mosaics.” 2

1 Dorothea Baumer, “Anxiety by day, anxiety by night. Exhibitions by Dieter Roth in Zurich and Vienna”, obituary in Süddeutsche Zietung, 30 June 1998. Published in Malcolm Green (ed.), I’ll Get Through (Dieter Roth Academy) available at:
2 From “Conversation with Dieter Roth on 15.05.98 with Peter P. Schneider and Simon Maurer” in Malcolm Green (ed.), I’ll Get Through (Dieter Roth Academy).