Emergency at SAVVY Contemporary – documenta 14

20 June 2017

Walking and Thinking

30 May 2017

Translation of Michael Stoibers text in Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, March 15, 2017.

Walking and Thinking

Empty is more: The British multi-talent Tim Etchells is exhibiting at Kunstverein Braunschweig
By Michael Stoeber

There has never been so much emptiness with such a simultaneous abundance of thoughts at Kunstverein Braunschweig. It’s due to the British multi-talent Tim Etchells. The artist, born in 1962, has made a name as playwright, performer, writer, and stage director. He especially became famous for founding and leading the performance group Forced Entertainment, which enriches the contemporary theater for more than 30 years with smart plays, brave improvisations, and touching slapsticks. In the past, they were part of the Theaterformen-Festivals in Braunschweig and Hanover for several times.

Activated audience

Etchells appearance is magnificent. He transforms the 15 exhibition rooms of the Villa Salve Hospes in a brilliant manner into a resonance chamber of his improved and spoken audio play. When visitors enter the first room, they become surrounded by the allover distributed, strictly and anthropomorphically acting black loudspeakers with the artist’s voice persuading: “Go with your head”–Do what your mind is telling you. Tim Etchells repeats the order several times, whereby he changes its rhythmic and pronunciation. In an almost musically manner it recharges over and over again with a new feeling and meaning.

An adjacent loudspeaker acts out the exact opposite command “Go with your heart”–Follow your heart. These contradictory, acoustically layered imperatives form a conflict, a drama of values. It affects the visitor’s head, where it will be rethought. They evoke that Etchells’ performance will not remain with him, but rather it becomes the matter of its listener in an Aristotelian meaning. Alike the theatrical praxis of Forced Entertainment, it activates the audience similarly intelligent and irresistible. Speaking in Braunschweig means fulfilling actions with words in the sense of the speech act theory.

The artist’s opening performance emphasized that as well. Walking up and down like those Greek philosophers, who thought while walking, he finds his improvised sentences. First at a measured step, then in a faster and more ecstatic running. As if he wants to demonstrate how strong moving and thinking, epiphany and action is related to each other. “Moving words”–words moving: Etchells’ first sentence showcases his art strategy and reveals in a second interpretation, how much words are able to move us. He names other paces, which focus on the entirety of our existence; including: “It’s touch and go” or “Dance”.

For the aphorisms of his audio play, the artist used English phrases, which work metaphorically with the body. We become linguistically fragmented, and the trick consists of still finding unity. Nothing else means the paradox title “Together Apart”. A linguistic link of “Pull yourself together” and Tim Etchells’ invention “Tear yourself apart”. There is hope in the contradictory alliance. Not only for the fate of individuals, but also maybe for that of whole societies.

Three Tables Returns to Tate Exchange

From June 15-18 my interactive performance Three Tables is at Tate Exchange. It’s running from mid-day onwards and continues until the building closes each day. Do please stop by to Level 5, Blavatnik Building at Tate Modern and join in the work.

Three Tables is a long interactive work in which three performers seated in the open space of Tate Exchange, draw members of the public into conversations and exchanges on topics that range from work and money to ephemeral things and friendship, family and love. It’s a simple but complicated piece, presented this time by performers Season Butler, Deborah Pearson and Souheil Sleiman (who steps into the shoes of Harun Morrison). I’m really happy that it’s back and that more people will get a chance to take part.

We first presented Three Tables last year, as part of the opening of Tate Exchange and it worked really well – a low key format that ebbed and flowed to create some really intense conversations and encounters between strangers. The piece depends on the performers of course, who are really adept and open in their approach, but it’s also very reliant on and open to visitors to the gallery taking up the invitation of the piece to conversation and discussion.

In the same time period Tate are also re-presenting my piece Further Provocations, manifested by Andrew Stevenson, in which a series of texts are repeatedly painted, painted out and then repainted on the longest wall in the Exchange space.

Hope to see you at Tate over the days.

Schedule for Three Tables

15 June 2017 at 12.00–18.00

16 June 2017 at 12.00–18.00

17 June 2017 at 12.00–18.00

18 June 2017 at 12.00–18.00

Together Apart. Solo show, Kunsteverein Braunschweig – 4 March-14 May

1 March 2017

Developed specifically for Kunstverein Braunschweig, Tim Etchells’ work Together Apart encompasses all fifteen rooms of  the Villa Salve Hospes.

In this expansive sound installation, language, not a physical object, is the focus. Multiple loudspeakers project the voice of an individual who gives visitors instructions; these consist of English forms of speech that metaphorically refer to different parts of the body: “Go with your heart,” “Keep your eyes peeled,” and “Keep your nose out of it.” While viewers attempt to mentally decipher, or perhaps physically implement , the mantra-like phrases of these interwoven sounds, the words take on a degree of urgency due to their presence in the space. As a listener, one inevitably has a sense of being personally addressed, and one finds oneself drawn into the situation.

Together Apart sparks associations that accompany or even guide visitors on a social, architectural, physical, and mental level as they make their way through the exhibition spaces. The sound collage repeatedly gives rise to perplexing moments, when scraps of text seem to alternate between their literal and metaphorical meanings or when these meaning seem to break down into syllables of sound through repetition.

Together Apart is at Kunstverein Braunschweig from 4 March – 14 May, 2017.

BBC Radio 3 ‘Open Ear’ concert with Aisha Orazbayeva, 2 March

9 February 2017

On March 2, Tim and violinist Aisha Orazbayeva will be doing doing a set for BBC Radio 3’s ‘Open Ear’ concert.

Tim’s collaborations with Aisha – presented in a variety of formats and grouped under the title Seeping Through – sees text and music treated as fluid forces in the same space, fading in and out of each other, breathing together, cutting and cancelling each other, creating dynamic and always unstable landscapes.

The broadcast will take place at St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road, London E5 0PD, at 6.45pm.
You can apply for tickets here.

What Can Be Seen – Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, 8 Feb-7 May

Museums Sheffield is hosting a major new collaborative project by Tim Etchells and Vlatka Horvat. From 8 February – 7 May 2017, at the Millennium Gallery, What Can Be Seen will present a bold, playful reimagining of the city’s historic museum collections alongside new work by the artists, produced especially for the exhibition.

What Can Be Seen draws from the city’s diverse collections to explore how we attempt to understand the world through history, science, art, narrative and the act of collecting itself. By presenting unexpected groupings of objects from across the city’s collections, alongside fascinating series of similar items and drawings, as well as behind-the-scenes images taken in the museums store, Etchells and Horvat explore new relationships between otherwise unrelated subjects and areas of inquiry.

Visitors to What Can Be Seen will encounter a wealth of objects, specimens and images from archaeology, natural sciences, decorative art, visual art and social history, including pocket watches, biological specimens and Egyptian artefacts, as well as weather data charts, early 20th century puppets and a set of empty picture frames from which the paintings have been removed for conservation. Idiosyncratic and surprising, Etchells and Horvat’s project zooms in again and again on the act of care, observation and study by curators, scientists, artists and others as they try to understand, record and communicate the world we live in.

The exhibition also includes two new series of photographic works produced by Etchells and Horvat, titled No Contextual Information and Card Index (Details) (both 2017). Images comprising these series bring to the foreground the “hidden” processes and systems used by the institution and its curators as they engage in the collecting, cataloging and keeping track of objects in their care.

Upcoming Gigs

28 October 2016
Tim Etchells and Aisha Orazbayeva in Seeping Through.


* Tim will present improvised solo performances at the art fair ARTISSIMA as part of Per4m on 3 November 2016.

* Tim and collaborator violinist Aisha Orazbayeva present their dynamic improvised sound/voice performance Seeping Through at Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate Friday 11 November and
at Camden People’s Theatre in London Sat 26 November at 9pm.

* Tim’s work with Forced Entertainment is in a mini-residency at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts in Brighton from 10 – 12 of November 2016. The group present the UK premiere of Real Magic, their new performance directed by Tim, and their 6 hour improvised durational work around storytelling And on the Thousandth Night.

* Tim’s collaboration with choreographer Meg Stuart – an improvised evening under the title Shown & Told – is at Kaaitheater in Brussels from 30 November – 2 December 2016.

* Tim’s neon Let’s Pretend (Large) is still gracing the exterior of The Grundy art gallery in Blackpool as part of Neon: The Charged Line which runs until 7 January 2017.

Eyes Looking – Times Square, New York, October 2016

16 October 2016
Eyes Looking - video installation for Times Square - Tim Etchells. Image courtesy of the artist.

Eyes Looking. Hands Holding. Hearts Beating. Fingers Touching. Brains Thinking. Feet Walking.

Eyes Looking is a new video work from Tim Etchells. This multi-channel video installation – a commission for Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment – will be shown on the jumbotron screens in Times Square, New York throughout October 2016 as part of Crossing The Line festival.

Eyes Looking shows a series of short phrases spelled out in letters made of ice, which dissolve to water, the words turning repeatedly to pattern, shape, and reflection. The different displays across Times Square will show different phrases appearing in dialogue with each other, creating unexpected variations, scramblings and re-imaginings of the body and its activities.

Eyes Touching. Hands Walking. Blood Listening. Ears Looking.

Etchells’ texts at the heart of Eyes Looking draw attention to the human beings who pass through Times Square in the present, as well as those who have been there in the past. The work highlights the small actions and human details that bring us together, generating a sense of the multitude of living, breathing and moving bodies present together in the public space of a city.