Etchells’ Hear/Höre/Hoor/Hear consists of 88 single neon words in four languages, Frisian, German, Dutch and English, where each word refers to different uses and capacities of human voice or spoken language, from ‘whisper’ and ‘sing’ to ‘confess’, ‘describe’, ‘translate’ and ‘question’. The scattered installation of the words – appearing in four colours (one per language) in a thickening cloud on a single wall running the length of the building, serves both to sequence and group them, the arrangement meanwhile creating linguistic and semantic links, echoes, contrasts and correspondences as viewers navigate the space.
Commissioned as part of Lân fan Taal (Republic of Languages) – an exploration and celebration of language diversity during Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018, Hear/Höre/Hoor/Hear is one of three connected works (along with Alphabets and To Talk To You) that are grouped under the collective title In So Many Words, inaugurating the newly constructed OBE Pavilion in Leeuwarden.
The project In So Many Words will run from February to October 2018.
More information here.
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.