Tim Etchells’ practice is concerned with tropes of performativity, liveness and presence. Binaries of exposure and concealment, construction and deconstruction, appearance and disappearance are explored through a framework of LCD monitors, computer screens, the stage, the space of a page, a gallery, a found site, a street, or some private space. Etchells’ interventions in these spaces and moments explore the dynamic relationship between the viewer and work in a context where systems in language and culture are interrogated for their productive or constraining effects. Many works produce a kind of non-linearity, an autonomous assembly and deconstruction of encounters and processes.
Tim Etchells and Hugo Glendinning, Empty Stages, On-going since 2003
Empty Stages is an on-going photographic project cataloguing empty stages in a variety of contexts – pubs, conference centres, amateur theatres, church halls, city theatres and working men’s clubs. Through these temporarily deserted locations for performance, the work explores stages as spaces of imminence and expectation – inviting the viewer to imagine the different kinds of events that might take place in these locations.
Tim Etchells, It’s moving from I to It, 2014
A performance commissioned by London-based curatorial initiative FormContent, as part of It’s Moving From I to It – a 15-month programme on visual language, abstraction, disappearance and the object. The programme comprised a series of commissioned texts, workshops, a set of public events and exhibitions – this commissioned performance piece formed the final chapter.
It’s moving from I to It – The Play playfully animates the questions and discourses informing FormContent’s project. Tim Etchells was invited to draw upon the dense body of voices within the over-arching project, and respond with a linguistically unstable performance, a subjective and playful reading of its thematics. Working across texts and visual materials, this conclusive chapter made tangible some of the concerns raised by various contributors regarding issues of authorship, narrative potentialities and institutional rhetoric.
This performance text was written and directed by Tim Etchells, and performed by Jennifer Pick and Bruno Roubicek, at venues across the UK and Europe throughout 2014-15.
Tim Etchells, Fight Posters, 2012
Drawing on and expanding material from his Vacuum Days project, Etchells’ provocativeFight Posters announce an absurd series of imaginary fights, contests or competitions. Whether underscoring unresolved conflicts in the social and political sphere, replaying stereotypical media rivalries or simply creating violent competition in places where one might least expect to find it, Etchells’ lurid poster works form a playful invitation to imagine, summoning virtual performances through text alone.
Tim Etchells,The Best Fastest Worst Saddest Longest Most Complex Hardest Funniest, 2014
The Best Fastest Worst Saddest Longest Most Complex Hardest Funniest begins as an exchange of contradictory statements about the world, with different performers offering what seem to be their personal opinions about a wide range of topics. Describing through a range of superlatives the saddest thing in the world, the worst film ever made, the most dangerous wild animal, the loneliest place in a house, the best way to die, the funniest thing on the Internet, the most frightening sound in the world, the worst way to educate a child, the most delicious and unhealthy fast food and the occasions or circumstances where time passes most slowly, the performance appears as a kind of anecdotal and often contradictory encyclopaedia of human life.
Framed as a catalogue of simple everyday information, The Best Fastest Worst Saddest…soon becomes a complex conversation about the world and the things we know, learn and believe about it, revealing the performers or characters through a complex web of opinions, stories and statements. Performed by the group Comphania Maior comprising performers over the age of 60, Etchells’ text also takes on another dimension as the kinds of opinions ventured, stories told and experiences recounted both confirm and overturn our perceptions and preconceptions about the performers themselves and the lives they might have lived.
The Best Fastest Worst Saddest… weaves a fascinating path through the mundane business of recipes, domestic life advice and DIY car maintenance to the more abstract and philosophical realms of romance, morality, mortality, optimism and pessimism.
Tim Etchells on Live Streaming, Forced Entertainment’s durational performances and “Complete Works”, 22. Juni 2015.
Working with Forced Entertainment in the early ’90s we were preparing for a theatre performance with the title “Emanuelle Enchanted”. As was often the case for us then, the piece was made from more-or-less discrete sections, each involving text and action, governed and guided by a particular rule-system or structure. Based in games, explorations, and an inventive energetic playing-through of limits, the sprawling improvisations the work grew from were flowing and endlessly generative, appearing to resist both the time demands of theatre and the shaping hand of direction, even as the form we were tied to (a theatre performance) was a frame of more-or-less inbuilt demands and expectations.
Forced Entertainment is re-telling Shakespeare’s play, using very ordinary domestic objects.
A salt and pepper pot for the king and queen. A ruler for the prince. A spoon for the servant. Lighter fluid for the Innkeeper. A water bottle for the messenger… © Tim Etchells
Tim Etchells @ Artissima
Gallery: Vitrine Gallery, London
Biography: Tim Etchells (b.1962 Sheffield, UK) is currently Professor of Performance and Writing at Lancaster University. He has led the performance group Forced Entertainment, based in Sheffield since its inception in 1984. Forced Entertainment are widely considered to be one of the greatest British theatrical exports of the past 30 years, credited with producing some of the most innovative and challenging theatre of the era to great acclaim throughout the world. In 2016, Etchells was awarded the Spalding Grey Award well as the International Ibsen Award for his work with Forced Entertainment.
Solo exhibitions include: ‘More Noise’, Bloomberg SPACE (2016); ‘For Now’, Plymouth Arts Centre, UK (2015); ‘The Facts On The Ground’, VITRINE, London, UK (2015); ‘Live Forever’, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, New York, USA (2014); ‘What is, and What is Possible’, Jakopič Gallery, Ljubljana, SI, (2013); ‘Neon Friday’, Battersea Arts Centre (BAC), London, UK (2012); ‘From Afar’, Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, PL, (2011); ‘Tim Etchells’, Gasworks, London, UK, (2010); and ‘Fog Game’, Künstlerhaus Bremen, Bramen, DE, (2010). Etchells poster project ‘And For The Rest’ has been created and presented in: Brussels (2014), Basel (2015) and Athens (2016); and he created a new series of posters ‘Vacuum Days (Utrecht)’ presented across the city (May 2016).
Group exhibitions include: ‘Risk’, Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2015); ‘Periodic Tales: The Art of the Elements’ at Compton Verney, Warwickshire, UK (2015); ‘The Alternative Document’, Project Space Plus, University of Lincoln, UK (2015); ‘The Cipher and the Frame’, Cubitt Gallery, London, UK (2015); ‘Mirror City’, Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2014); ‘Version Control’, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2013); ‘Acts of Voicing’, Württembergischer, Kunstverein Stuttgart, DE, (2012); and ‘Family Matters: The Family in British Art’, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Norwich, UK, (2011). Alongside this, Etchells work was involved in the Folkestone Triennial, Folkestone, UK, (2014) and has also appeared in numerous biennales including Gotenburg International Biennale, Sweden, (2011) and Manifesta 7, Rovereto, Italy, (2008).
Tim Etchells presented a solo booth with VITRINE at Dallas Art Fair (2016) and in Perf4m at ARTISSIMA Turin, Italy (November 2016). His collaboration with violinist Aisha Orazbayeva ‘Seeping Through (Decouverte)’ will be performed at FIAC, Palais De Decouverte, Paris (19 October 2016).
He is currently in the group exhibition ‘PROCESS, PERFORMANCE, PRESENCE’ at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2016) and ’Neon: The Charged Line’, The Grundy, Blackpool, UK (2016). He will launch TATE Moderns new ‘Tate Exchange’ Programme (September 2016) and his video installation ’Eyes Looking’ will take over Times Square, New York, throughout October, commissioned as part of Times Square Arts Alliance ‘Midnight Moments’ series. He has forthcoming exhibition (in collaboration with Vlatka Horvat) at Millenium Galleries, Sheffield, UK (February 2017) and his first German institutional solo exhibition at Kunstverein Braunschweig (March 2017).