FE Recall: No.9 – Tim Etchells

“All the photographs are stories now, so the only memories are things that weren’t photographed. It is a memory of the long flight of stone steps leading up the very steep very narrow stairwell to our first rehearsal space on The Wicker in Sheffield. Although the steps feature in a VHS video I shot at some point back then I don’t think an image of it exists. In any case there’s no way to play the video now, it would have been shot around 1985. The tape probably got skipped – the deep past is in formats that are no longer supported. I remember loading and unloading vans up and down these stairs. Huw would stay in the van to mastermind the packing. Fuck, he must have been what, 21 years old. Sometimes, as we loaded in or out, the guys from the boxing gym upstairs would be training, running circuits up and down the stairs. Yesterday (8th March 2024) we loaded stuff out of the current temporary rehearsal space in Sheffield  and into the van bound for Germany for the premiere of Signal to Noise. So, there we are again, moving things from the cold rehearsal space down yet more steep stone steps, these wider but with a corner to turn before you reach the street. In the space it’s not so cold as 85, but cold, nonetheless. It’s 40 years of this. Moving objects and materials together, passing on the stairs, sometimes talking or not, thinking, or not thinking. Climbing to and from a room in which you work together all day in this strange, strange, difficult and sometimes joyous endeavour. To organise actions and words in time and space. To weave spells. Strength, love, art, and politics.

Tim Etchells, Artistic Director, Forced Entertainment