Appearing as an instruction or as unsolicited life-advice, Etchells’ neon Shouting Your Demands draws the viewer/reader into a skeletal or implied fictional structure. What the demands referred to in the text really are, and why things have reached the stage of warning us not to take to the rooftops in order to achieve them, is not clear. We’re left with the feeling that the current situation is bad, and that rash action, no matter how much it’s warned against, is somehow on the cards.
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.