Wall Window or Bar Sign (Insanity is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over and Expecting Different Results)
Starting with Bruce Nauman’s iconic artwork, The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (Window or Wall Sign), Mungo Thomson’s neon sign is one of a series that replaces Nauman’s quixotic mini-manifesto with aphorisms from ‘recovery’ culture, especially those made popular by alcoholics anonymous. Thomson is referencing the lore that Nauman’s work (the first of many neons he’d make in the following years) had been inspired by a neon beer sign found in a corner-store in San Francisco that he used as his studio in the late 60s. This particular work has a self-critical subtext, as it also suggests the act of using another artist’s work, in an endless spiral of influence, is akin to a form of insanity.
Mungo Thomson is a Los Angeles-based conceptual artist whose challenging works reveal a fascination with time, space, music, and perceptual phenomena in general. It has been pointed out that Thomson’s work privileges backgrounds: material (the white walls), institutional (the gallery), and historical.