Tim Etchells at Bloomberg SPACE, London
By GRACIE LINDEN, APR 2016
Tim Etchells’s current exhibition MORE NOISE at Bloomberg SPACE (London) features three neon works as part of London’s Lumiere festival. Etchells’ practice explores the breakdowns and new understandings of language and syntax — how to play with and disrupt meaning — through three neon sculptures. The exhibition includes the new work "More Noise" which is made up of fourteen neon word pieces reading "MORE NOISE" and "THAN SIGNAL" strewn across the floor. The lights glow loudly in a variety of flashy colors, and although the work itself plays with ideas of sound and static, it is obviously silent. In fact, its position on the gallery’s floor almost renders the piece mute, flashing at us viewers from below. The pile of words challenges notions of order, ultimately producing a work that silently shouts nonsense.
Looming over the entire gallery is “Let’s Pretend” which proclaims “LET’S PRETEND NONE OF THIS EVER HAPPENED” in a clean script. The words glow fluorescent white, and this plea for a self-imposed amnesia is clinical and direct. More colorful is “Mirror Pieces” a dazzling word puzzle reading “OPTICAL ALLUSIONS” and “POLITCAL DELUSIONS” both right-side up and upside down, each letter a different color. The effect is profoundly disorienting and underscores the chaos and obfuscation in today’s politics. With only three pieces, MORE NOISE is a spare exhibition, but the gallery by no means feels empty: The glow of the lights fills the white room creating a space that is warm and inviting.
Neon — that radiant element — so often associated with late night bars and flashing advertisements, here is tamed, trapped indoors. Bloomberg SPACE’s glass walls blur the division between neighborhood and gallery, encouraging visitors to see MORE NOISE as part of the streetscape itself. It is possible to view the art without ever stepping in the gallery; at night especially, the works are particularly enticing and feel entirely a part of the street. From the sidewalk however, the words themselves are almost impossible to decipher, and so MORE NOISE lures in those just passing by.
In addition to his own practice, Etchells is also director of Forced Entertainment, a performance group based in the United Kingdom, and for this, he was recently awarded 2016’s Spalding Gray Award. Although all of the works in MORE NOISE are motionless, because of the interaction and interchange with the streetscape, there is a performative quality to the exhibition. Lights flicker, and the exhibition pulses, daring businessmen and wanderers alike to step off of the street without ever really leaving it. WM
MORE NOISE is on view at Bloomberg SPACE until 12 March.
Tim Etchells will be presented by VITRINE at Dallas Art Fair 14-17 April 2016 (www.vitrinegallery.co.uk/artist/tim-etchells/).