Tim Etchells born 1962 and FormContent established 2007 It’s moving from I to It – The Play 2014

It’s moving from I to It – The Play was a travelling performance conceived and directed by British artist Tim Etchells and commissioned by the London-based curatorial initiative FormContent. The play formed the final chapter of FormContent’s two-year project of the same name, It’s moving from I to It 2012–14, which was developed as a nomadic curatorial project intended to explore modes of cultural production and dissemination through a series of different initiatives and collaborations.

The performance was staged by actors Jennifer Pick and Bruno Roubicek in a collection display gallery at Tate Modern on 30 January 2014. It formed part of the BMW Tate Live series, an initiative which provides a collaborative space in order to explore how art can affect intellectual, social and physical change. After its presentation at Tate, the play travelled to Spike Island in Bristol in February; Eastside Projects in Birmingham in April; and back to London at David Roberts Art Foundation in November. The play was also featured in the 2011 iteration of the long-running contemporary performance programme If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution in Amsterdam.

Etchells is an artist and author who has worked in a variety of contexts, most notably in his role as artistic director of the experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment. His work includes writing, performance and visual art. For the conclusion of their two-year programme, FormContent commissioned Etchells to produce a performance that would engage with questions prompted by the project. Each event that had formed part of the It’s moving from I to It programme had been categorised as a ‘scene’. These scenes were ‘folded into the programme … feed[ing] into a script, therefore suggesting a theatrical framework as a possible way to think and articulate a long-term curatorial trajectory’.1 Etchells’s play therefore explored concepts of authorship, language, narrative and institutional rhetoric towards creating a curatorial script.

Etchells focused on seventeen of the scenes from It’s moving from I to It, which had taken a variety of forms including events, exhibitions, readings and workshops. The play responded to these projects, attempting ‘to draw upon … a dense body of voices and respond with a linguistically unstable performance, a subjective and playful reading of the thematics of the whole project’.2 It took the form of a gallery talk or museum guided tour. In the script Etchells drew upon texts and visual material exploring the relationship between language and objects in the context of an art gallery. However, it also went beyond a discussion of works on display, considering the different ways art is made and viewed as well as the effect of curation.

Although the performance was a ticketed event, it had a purposefully informal and intimate character: the audience was gathered casually in the space and there was no theatrical lighting or stage. The institutional setting provided a backdrop for the play and the subsequent public discussion, which also included members of FormContent and Tate staff. This turned the event from a space of reflection to one of exchange, which had characterised the whole project.

Philomena Epps
April 2016