All the Things (II) (2022) is a neon sculpture, the full text for which reads ‘All the Things which Could Happen Next’. Here, as elsewhere in his work with neon and LED Etchells’ draw on his broader artistic fascinations, 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 openness and uncertainty and ambiguity.
In the particular case of All the Things, Etchells invokes the idea of future possibilities in diverse contexts and at different scales, opening the question of the future in terms of small events and large ones, personal and intimate happenings as well as broad social changes or actions. More than anything, perhaps, the bold declaration of the work makes transparent the unknown nature of the future, and the fragility of our personal and social certainties. None of us knows what will happen next. In drawing attention to this, and in underscoring the diverse and uncertain possibilities of the future, Etchells invites viewers to consider their own agency in shaping future events.
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.