Etchells’ Revolution piece declares the same instructional phrase – ‘Start a Revolution’ – 8 times, in four colours – appearing as both an imperative demand for action and as a set of kitsch and more-or-less aestheticised set of slogans for Revolution in different flavours. Etchells sets up a tension between form and meaning, repeating the urgent demand for change in the retro glow of neon, the 20th Century’s medium of choice for glamour and advertising.
The work has been installed in several different configurations in different contexts.
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.