Presented in the classic fierce red of standard neon, Etchells’ All We Have (Double Line) echoes Beckett to present two almost-identical phrases, the difference between them formed through the addition or subtraction of a single letter ‘L’, which marks the move between ‘words’ and ‘worlds’. The simple, punning shift in the text from one line to the next creates a loop of apparent contradiction, inviting the viewer to reflect on the question of what it is that makes up and comprises our lives; the concrete material of a world or the ephemeral material of language and ideas. Originally commissioned by and currently on show at Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens.
About Tim Etchells’ neon and LED works
Etchells’ neon and LED pieces often draw on his broader fascinations as an artist, writer and performance maker, exploring contradictory aspects of language – the speed, clarity and vividness with which it communicates narrative, image and ideas, and at the same time its amazing propensity to create a rich field of uncertainty and ambiguity.
Through simple phrases spelt out in neon, LED and other media, Etchells strives to create miniature narratives, moments of confusion, awkwardness, reflection and intimacy in public and gallery settings. Encountering the neon sign works, in the streets of a city or in the space of a white cube gallery, the viewer becomes implicated in a situation that’s not fully revealed, or a linguistic formulation that generates confusion or ambiguity. As often in Etchells’ work, in the neons the missing parts of the picture are as important as the elements that are present. Invoking a story, or projecting an idea out-of-context, the work invites us in, but into what exactly we can’t be sure.