Neon London

8 July 2008

Starting tonight my neon Wait Here is being shown at a new project space Butchers run by Ben Borthwick and Cylena Simonds. Ben is an Assistant Curator at Tate Modern. Cylena is an independent curator and writer based in London. From 2004-2008 she was the Exhibitions Curator at Iniva. Butchers looks like it is going to be an interesting adventure.

Wait Here at Butcher’s, 183 Royal College Street, NW1 0SG, 9 July – 25 August. Viewing hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (but best after dusk!). Opening reception: Tuesday, 8 July, 6-8pm. Transport:   Camden Town tube/ Camden Road rail/ Regent’s Canal. Press text:

“Shown for the first time in London, Tim Etchells’s artwork Wait Here (2008) launches the opening of new project space Butcher’s on 9 July.

In his display for Butcher’s shop front window, Etchells’ red neon sign reads in full Wait Here I Have Gone To Get Help, suggesting an ominous event has taken place, the gravity of which we do not know. Passersby may wonder if the sign refers to an individual event, something that happened recently on the street or to a general state of the neighbourhood/country/planet.

But there is a tension between the language and materials of this artwork. The urgent call to wait is at odds with the fixed state of the sign. How long should we hold on? And how long has the situation (whatever it is) been going on? Is it getting worst while we wait? Will help come in time? If we leave, are we forsaking the possibility of help, even hope, in the future?

The absurdity of this dilemma is particularly appropriate for the launch of an unfunded non-commercial art space. Butcher’s identifies with Etchells’ piece in terms of its relevance to our immediate financial and organisational capabilities, but also as an oblique comment on the role of art spaces in the community. Will Butcher’s reaffirm a sense of community, or is it just another stage of gentrification?”


Barbara Campbell pointed me to Ivan Grubanov’s website. She had just come across his paintings of empty stages. Apart from the connection to the Empty Stages photo-series Hugo and I are working on, I like the combination of the paintings with the rest of the work you can see there on Grubanov’s site, esp the images of a performance in which he speaks from a crane in front of the parliament building in Belgrade. I guess what’s effective to me is the contrast in the work between a political reality – charged, real – and the (perhaps equally dangerous) idea of something transcendent, other, outside.