While You Are Here With Us Tonight

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“For those familiar with Tim Etchells’ genre spanning and, to some extent, genre defying work, the unconventional format of his most recent publication will come as no surprise. This does not, however, diminish any delight on encountering the strange flesh of While You Are With Us Here Tonight, as its pages attempt to stitch together an energetic corpus that is otherwise known as Etchells’ artistic practice.” A-N, 2013


Arising from research and reflection undertaken during his time as Live Art Development Agency Legacy: Thinker in Residence, While You Are With Us Here Tonight is Tim Etchells’ poetic and idiosyncratic reflection on questions of legacy, document and archive, drawing on aspects of his solo work and on his long-running collaboration with the other members of Forced Entertainment. As well as original writing from Etchells and archive images from photographer Hugo Glendinning, the book also features contributions by a handful of other contemporary artists and thinkers including Adrian Heathfield, Vlatka Horvat, Terry O Connor, Kate Mcintosh and Janez Jansa.

A starting point (and conceptual anchor) for this publication is a monologue text first performed by Terry O’ Connor as part of the performance First Night. In the text O’Connor implores the audience not to think about a list of topics and things, from global warming to scars and scrapes, from rope burns and badly parked cars to badly managed hospitals and badly looked after gardens and so on ad infinitum. Wrapped through and around this text (as an excessive amount of footnotes) in the publication are strands of reflective text, memory fragments, images and quotations provided by both Etchells and his invited guests, all of which spin off from the centre in different directions.

These collaborative and competing footnotes refer in part to the history / context / ideas and trace of Etchells’ work, but also expand it outwards, connecting Etchells’ and Forced Entertainment to broader movements and questions from contemporary art, performance and social history. The book is both a reflection on the past, and a highly performative thinking forwards into possible futures, a journey or drifting by association and a transformation of one text into a series of others through the playful, disruptive and illuminating enterprise of footnoting.

Tim Etchells’ While You Are With Us Here Tonight is the outcome of his Legacy: Thinker in Residence Award (a collaboration between the Live Art Development Agency and Tate Research).

By Tim Etchells
Published in 2013 by the Live Art Development Agency.