‘From Behind’ presents a set of 12 photographs taken during the protests that greeted U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2018 visit to the UK. Taken from amidst the marching crowd, the images document the signs that protestors carried, but, rather than the fronts, we see the reverse sides of the placards, revealing the diverse arrangements and colours of crisscrossed tape that holds them together. Whilst some of these signs were clearly made in haste and others are neater and more efficient, all of them evidence the labour and improvisation undertaken by individual protestors in advance of the march. In contrast to the slogans of the front, which were made for presentation to an audience, the backs of these signs are less considered, and, like a theatrical stage set seen from behind, are primarily visible to those involved in the march itself.
In From Behind and in the neon that accompanied its first presentation ‘For Everything’, Etchells considers the relationship between the seen and the unseen. Documentation of the reversed protest signs reveals a procession of abstract drawings whilst in the neon, the language is playfully broken down so that only half is readily visible, initially presenting as a jumble of letters. In each case we become acutely aware of the mechanics of communication, and must draw closer to see the whole story.
‘From Behind’ is at VITRINE Bermondsey Square until January 20th 2019.
William Clarke reviews Tim’s solo show ‘For Everything ‘ at Vitrine London including the neon ‘For Everything’ and photo series ‘From Behind’, here.