BIOGRAPHY | WORKS | EXHIBITIONS
San Keller, who was born in Bern 1971, is one of the most important Swiss artists of today. Indeed, his participatory and ephemeral actions, as well as his poetic, humorous and utterly singular objects gained have gained him an outstanding reputation not only in his own country, but also abroad. Ever since he entered the scene in the middle of the 1990s, appearing on Swiss Television, for example, sleeping on the floor during the news report, or his international appearances, at the Sharjah Biennale in 2005, amongst others, when he asked Dr. Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammed El-Qasimi whether he should hang on to the San star, the trademark of his works, or at Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt in 2008, when he and his friend Su Young Park answered an invitation to participate at the exhibition «Mathilda is Calling» by taking turns at pushing each other to Darmstadt in a cart – he has been producing a critical, conceptual and playful oeuvre that takes a very special approach to relating art and life.

For San Keller art is not only a challenge in terms of content, socially motivated and answering to his curiosity as regards human behaviour and social as well as art-related systems, but also in terms of form. Which is inextricably bound up with content. For form has to agree with content. Or with narrative. Be it as it may, San Keller, first and foremost, is not out to create physical works of art, but he considers art a service that gives us the opportunity to experience outworn models in a new way, simultaneously putting them under critical scrutiny.

His actions start off with contractual arrangements that set up the rules for his works, which follow their own playful logic and bespeak a certain, if intelligent, absurdity. The artist quite intentionally makes use of very simple objects and means: this ranges from old shoes to cheap plastic chairs, pitta breads, dust, stones, air and human beings, to songs he plays from records and tapes, words and sentences he creates himself or steals from others. All these things are carefully selected and arranged to fit the according works.

That he makes use of logo, label, brand name and other means of marketing gleaned from entrepreneurial strategies may not be a characteristic singular to his work, but it is definitely a very important one. If other artists proceed in a similar way, clearly demonstrated by the exhibition «Branding» at the Centre Pasquart in Biel not so very long ago, Keller, however, brings in a new aspect by combining a thoroughly honest, self-critical modesty verging on being anti-entrepreneurial on the one hand with an ironic and parodist subversions of commercial attitudes on the other.

San Keller´s extraordinary work has met with the amount of recognition it fairly deserves. The artists, however, does not attach more importance to showing his work in blockbuster exhibitions as might take place in New York, Kyoto, Berlin, London or similar places, than he does to presenting it in small exhibition halls or public spaces such as streets and squares. Also, we could not possibly say that in Switzerland his work has not been seen often enough. This is why a private museum is not exactly the most pressing of matters – but it is something that perfectly fits San Keller’s meticulous, subtle and, above all, humorous art.