“Corridor8: You work across a diverse spectrum of spaces — from gallery to stage, public space to paper. Do you find there are similarities in the ways you approach these?
Tim Etchells: Yes, I think so. I am always trying to understand the nature of the contract you can establish with a viewer in a particular context. If you can understand that — what the possibilities and limits of the situation are — you can make a work that speaks intelligently into the context. I’m always keen to understand the formal structures and the nature of the relationship to an object or a work in a particular context. In essence, you’re performing a calculation: ‘What is this space? How does it work, historically and in more pragmatic dynamic terms? What does it allow me to do? What are the limits I need to negotiate or try to break through?’ Any of these contexts allow you to do something quite different, but the calculations you make about the work itself are very similar.
One of the things I like about working across all these mediums is that it allows me to reach viewers in a variety of different ways. At the extreme end, a novel is very different to a neon sign, and a neon sign on top of a building is very different to an intimate show in a gallery or a performance lasting six hours. Each of those allows you to approach people in different ways, and that’s what interests me — the chance to make a connection, to get under people’s skin or get past their defences.”
Susie Pentelow interviews Tim Etchells for Corridor8 Magazine. Read more here.