Tim Etchells is an artist, performer, and writer. His work involves the deconstruction of language and the implication of events unfolding in time through installation, improvised text-performances, interactive audio- experiments, new media, SMS or text messaging performances and fiction as well as publicly sited text-works, neon and LED signage. In his neon works, Etchells spells out simple phrases to create miniature narratives, moments of confusion, awkwardness, reflection and intimacy. Encountering these neon signs, in the streets of a city, a white cube gallery, or a private home, the viewer becomes implicated in a situation that’s not fully revealed. The missing parts of the picture are often as important as the elements that are present. Invoking a story, or projecting an idea out-of-context into the situation of the work invites us in, but into what exactly we can’t be sure. Etchells’ neons have been shown worldwide since he began making them in 2008.
Etchells’ has had many public installations including: How Love Could Be (2014) a large-scale, temporary LED installation, specially designed for the hoist frame of Germany’s Deutsches Bergbau-Museum, the mining museum that is Bochum’s most well known landmark, and commissioned as a part of Das Detroit-Projekt; A Stitch in Time (2014), a 23-meter long artwork of steel letters and LED bulbs, commissioned by Lumiere Derry-Londonderry and now permanently installed on top of old Rosemount Shirt Factory in the UK; We Wanted (2011), a 15-meter long, 3D sign based on a phrase from the Cat Power’s song Colors And The Kids, which was commissioned by UP Projects in partnership with Shangri-La Glastonbury. It’s been installed throughout England—at Glastonbury Festival, the Thames Festival in London, and the Shambala Festival.
Etchells is currently Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment, the world-renowned performance collective based in Sheffield, UK, whose collaborations began in 1984. He was the 2014 Artist of the City of Lisbon, Portugal, as well as the Artist-in-Residence at the PuSh Festival in Vancouver, Canada. Etchells lectured at the Tate Modern in 2014 on key issues of performance-based art and its place in culture. From 2008 to 2013, he was the Legacy: Thinker in Residence, an initiative instigated by the Live Art Development Agency and Tate Research in London. From 2004 through 2007, Etchells was a Creative Research Fellow at Lancaster University, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2007 by Dartington College of Arts. His work has been exhibited at: Tate Liverpool; Gasworks, London; Göteburg International Biennale; CASM, Arts Santa Mònica, Barcelona; MACBA, Barcelona; Künstlerhaus Bremen; Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam; Sparwasser HQ, Berlin; ArtFutures, Bloomberg SPACE, London; The Centre for Book Arts, Canada; Exit Art, New York; and Manifesta 7, Rovereto, Italy; Total Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea; Argos Center for Art and Media, Brussels.