In the deep of Berlin's cold winter, day and night are virtually reversed, and while the road to Damascus steers clear of Prussia, the road to Siberia goes right through Berlin. Seediness becomes illuminated, the virtuous clarity of day is profaned, and Gargantua and Pantagruel rise from the dusty shelves of Bakhtin fans' libraries to liven things up and tease the carnivalesque out of a slothful populace. True, the North Pole is colder, and darker, but it hasn't seen Berlin's particular shade of muted, misty, ubiquitous grey. No wonder the city either hibernates, or packs into the frothing, lascivious, speed-laced cum-cyborg techno bars and clubs the city is infamous for.
Neuronal death may be the cause of seasonal affective disorder. And yet studies have shown that mice deprived of light on a regular basis live up to 22% longer than their blissfully circadian rhythmic counterparts. Like Eos, who asked Zeus for eternal life for her lover, Tithonus, but forgot to ask for eternal youth, are we doomed to the shadow of long years lived in winter's darkness, our brains slowly atrophying? When dusk's boney fingers creep ever closer to dawn, squeezing out the last remaining drops of human decency from the day, at least we have the slightly anodyne effect of artificial and neon light.
There is something so innocent and naïve, all Americana about neon light – a quaint failure to keep up with the complexities of modern advertising and an informed consumer, and the gall to make simple, equivocal proclamations like "Girls Girls Girls," "Hot Donuts," or "Open." "Lit" pays tribute to the pleasurable insomnia of neon light, its vexing yet inviting buzz , and its false promise of the quaint and simple, eternal light of youth, which, all too disingenuously, advertises a world-turned-upside-down inside the strip clubs, roach motels, bodegas, casinos, waxing salons and circuses it adorns. Near cult-like revelations abound: Mark Titchner's altar of burning candles – like the grave of the unknown soldier – on carved, found text entitled "Plateau Aurora Borealis" is a monument to the "New Sincerity" ; the naughtiest of subject matter meets with immaculate white radiation in Terence Koh's "Big White Cock", and a sound and light installation by Agathe Snow warns repeatedly "I don't know but I've been told… Eskimo pussy is mighty cold." With his neon rendition of a naked chick on a motorcycle, Dan Attoe's 2007 neon suggests "A Simpler Time," where negotiating the precipice between "What we want to be" and "What we pretend to be" (two of the text bubbles in the work) has an easy solution: "Get ripped 'n' Let 'er have it". Perhaps the most succinct of the bunch is the neon and colored mirror abstract portrait of Ice T's girlfriend, Coco," big on top, big on the bottom and cinched in the middle, by assume vivid astro focus. Unlike the real Coco, however, the neon sculpture leaves something to the imagination, and like the curves of its eponym, turgid and maxed-out with the latency of explosion, it fittingly bears the title "Coco Coco, Bzzz bzzz bzzz."