Etchells’ neon Seeing Through Walls was made initially for VITRINE Basel, and is installed there as a single floating sculptural gesture as part of the artists’ solo show Open Mind.
The full text of the piece reads THE SUPERPOWER OF SEEING THROUGH WALLS, and in context at once speaks out to the surrounding space – the glass structure of the gallery – addressing the architecture in which it is suspended. Obscured at points by metal girders of the building’s construction and physically obstructing the entrance to VITRINE, the work obliges visitors to duck under in order to enter the space, and creates a set of further contradictions and tensions in respect of the statement it presents.
Open Mind runs at VITRINE Basel from 18 March 2017 – 28 May 2017
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.