Views of the installation at Centro Cultural São Paulo, 2016
Neon sign > metal structure, acrylic plates, 4 reactors and neon letters (540 x 360 x 180 cm)

                Nowadays it’s almost a truism to say that we have never been more connected to the rest of the world and yet we have never been lonelier in our apartments. We have unlimited access to celebrity news and to what’s happening in the most remote countries, but at the same time we have no clue about the people who are living next to us. We hear our neighbors’ footsteps and share elevator space with them, we attend condominium meetings and exchange friendly greetings in the morning, but we do not know their names.

                Ask Your Neighbors is a work that points to that loss of a sense of community in large cities through a simple device: a neon sign mounted on a "floating" metal structure. The work can be perceived in two distinct ways. When viewed by the passerby during the day, it is taken for an installation object with a physical and material presence in the open air. When seen from afar, through the windows of the neighboring apartment buildings at night time, it is an immaterial message in light.

                While the work evokes the traditional associations of neon with street commercialism in big cities, it fails to perform the basic function of the light sign: it doesn’t sell, point to or clarify anything. It addresses the public directly and asks whoever is watching to go to their "neighbor" to inquire about the origins of the enigmatic object. It invites people to talk to each other, to dialogue, to make contact with those that are next to them. And in the case of the surrounding residents, to come and see the thing from up close.

Views of the installation at Espaço Saracvra, Rio de Janeiro, 2017, as guest for the project Lanchonete<>Lanchonete, by artist Thelma Vila Boas
> with the support of Goethe-Institut Rio de Janeiro, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) and the Federal Ministry of Germany for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), within the project Jogos do Sul.

photography São Paulo Lauro Rocha
photography Rio de Janeiro
João Paulo Racy