Everything is Insane

Margo Neely’s deliberately malfunctioning pink neon sign, “Everything is insane, I must not partake,” is an installation that seeks to explore the modern-day phenomenon of post-pandemic fatigue. Drawing inspiration from Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener, the sign serves as a commentary on advertising, media, and the mental exhaustion people around the world have experienced over the last three years.

The neon itself draws the viewer in as any public signage might, but its flashing, flickering lights intend to alarm and wake the viewer from a passive slumber of acceptance. Literally illuminating the words themselves suggest an ambiguous sense of overwhelming chaos and disorder and a desire to distance oneself from that chaos, but it is the sparks and smoke that drive the message home.

The wording is a direct quote from a text thread — a final response to an incalculable number of outrageous stories in media, politics, and everyday life. The sentiment is reminiscent of Melville’s Bartleby, a character who famously refuses to participate in the capitalist system that surrounds him, preferring instead to withdraw into himself and eventually into insanity. The sign’s deliberately malfunctioning state further underscores the idea not only of an individual breaking down, but an entire system, both metaphorically and literally.

The project also seeks to connect these themes to the experience of living through a global pandemic. The phrasing speaks to the overwhelming sense of uncertainty and fear that many people have experienced over the past three years, while suggesting a desire to opt out of the chaos and find some kind of stability, to no avail.

“Everything is insane, I must not partake” serves as a visual representation of post-pandemic fatigue in a failing system; Its medium and message are both a reminder of the toll the last three years have taken on our collective psyche, and an invitation to reflect on what kind of world we want to build as we move forward.

The Sign

About Margo Neely


Margo Neely is a polymath whose interdisciplinary work has been celebrated for its innovation and bold creative vision. With a background in art, philosophy, and technology, she is best known and as the multi-hyphenate creator of the award winning television series Ladies Revenge Club (“Best of the Fest” and “Best Short” winner at New York Comic Con/New York Super Week), the creator of the “Rosie Unriveted: We Can’t Do It Anymore!” campaign, and the visionary behind the Neely Air mi adidas custom concept — the megaviral drum machine shoe seen and loved by over 6 billion people worldwide.

Margo’s creative-technological innovations have earned her a reputation as a pioneer in the world of digital art, and she is frequently invited by media outlets around the globe to share her insights and expertise. Her work continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of art and technology, and she remains committed to using her talents to explore new frontiers while inspiring others to do the same.

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