When the closure of the ICA‘s Live Arts and Media department was announced in 2009, Etchells and artist Ant Hampton collaborated to create a virtual programme of project proposals from an international group of artists, curators and thinkers working in and around Live Art, framed as an imaginary re-opening of the department.
This unsanctioned curatorial project, True Riches, showed off the range, energy and dynamism of contemporary live art practice, as well as serving to galvanise discussion and protest of the ICA London’s decision.
“Filling a gap, and always willing to lend a hand when major arts organisations fail to do their jobs properly, we are delighted to announce the re-opening of the ICA Live Art Department in the form of the project True Riches. ICA’s Live Arts and Media Department was closed by Ekow Eshun, late last year with an accompanying email statement in which he described the area of practice as lacking the 'depth and cultural urgency' necessary to command the continued resources and focus of the institution. On the contrary we believe that Live Art and performance are highly significant and relevant forms with unique powers to speak to the contemporary situation and to engage the public in the most
extraordinary, thought-provoking and challenging ways. In a city as big, culturally rich and varied in its makeup and history as London is, it is important that an arts centre like the ICA should give adequate space to this important area of art practice. The ICA in London, positioned at the city’s geographical centre and as its experimental vanguard, should embrace and champion the possibilities of Live Art. ICA is perceived by many on the international scene as a model contemporary arts space. Live Art – with all of its hybrid tendencies, its blurring of boundaries, its fun, vitality, energy and relevance really should be there with the full weight and resources of the institution.”
True Riches arose from invitations to around 25 individuals to make proposals for works, seasons and themed and un-themed programmes. It gathers materials which stem from a variety of approaches, tendencies, and impulses in the live art sector – from the satirical critical to the archival, from the comical subversive to the theoretical investigative.
True Riches featured contributions from: Geraldine Pilgrim, José Antonio Sánchez, La Ribot, Gary Stevens, Vivi Tellas, Nicolás Goldberg, Christine Peters, Yara El-Sherbini, David Rosenberg/Shunt, Rajni Shah, Bill Aitchison, Goran Sergej Pristas, Frauke Requardt, Momus, The Centre of Attention, Duckie, Lois Keidan, Borrowers-International-Network, Hannah Herzig, Home, Zhana Ivanova, Station House Opera, Janez Janša and Stefan Kaegi.