Curated by the research-creation group ARTEA, the Expanded Theatricalities Chair analyses the thought inhabiting stage and performance practices, encouraging the listening and dialogue that materialises between artistic practices and modes of social theatricality. The aim is to punctuate the political potency of theatre, choreography and action art, taking into consideration that which is inherent in all of them: the modes of collaborative production and the simultaneous presence of bodies, differentiated and individualised, turned into places that posit discourses, the manifestation of forms of dissidence and the emergence of desire as the driving force of life.
This third edition is articulated around the artistic and discursive trajectory of Tim Etchells and his work with Forced Entertainment, a collective founded in Sheffield, England, in 1984 and made up of Robin Arthur, Richard Lowdon, Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden, Terry O’Connor and Etchells as artistic director. Forced Entertainment, which came into being at the height of Thatcherism, has remained active for almost forty years, challenging neoliberal individualism with a practice based on uncertainty, questions, expressing fears, self-mockery, and also shared dreams, connective power and temporal dissidence. Although their central medium is the stage, their works combine writing, visual installation and interventions in public spaces, their theatre work based on the tension between being physically present and constantly leaving oneself by way of literarization, masking (as puppet or animal) and loss (of voice, movement, the image itself). Their durational performances enable a reflection around exhaustion, an echo of unregulated and alienating work that could also be called “inhumane”. Forced Entertainment, therefore, invites the audience to avoid being distracted spectators, prompting them instead to be witnesses that dare to face destabilisation and become involved in the aesthetic experience, which in turn is an ethical and political action.
In this instance, the Expanded Theatricalities Chair gives equal relevance to artistic and discursive presentations. The programme gets under way with a shortened version of the collective’s durational performance Quizoola!, followed by lectures by Adrian Heatfhfield and Giulia Palladini, giving rise to a comprehensive approach to the group’s trajectory and pinpointing specific contributions. In a performative format, the talks of Tim Etchells and Juan Domínguez set up a dialogue between the work of both artists — starting out from different trainings and contexts, they have mobilised from common ethical and poetic concerns: language, temporality, stage presence and a questioning of the idea of the spectator and their material reality. The programme draws to a close with three interventions: three video creations by Etchells in Episode 6 of the Museo Reina Sofía Collection, the individual performance 12 am. Miniatures in spaces of transit and the action Some Imperatives, in collaboration with the Museo’s MA in Performing Arts and Visual Culture.
Further, the encounter is linked to the research project The New Loss of Centre. The Critical Practices of Live Arts and Architecture in the Anthropocene, developed by ARTEA since June 2020. The project focuses on the study of theatricalities inside the framework of environmental humanities, a transdisciplinary field which looks to bridge the gap between the sciences and the humanities, accepting that humans are simply one more agent among others that shape the environment. Stemming from this research project are different public activities conducted by the Museo Reina Sofía’s study groups: Body, Territory and Conflict (2020–2021), Conjugating Worlds: Multi-Species Corporealities (2022) and Collective and Planetary Mourning (2022–2023), coordinated by Fernando Quesada, the project’s academic director, and Isabel de Naverán, an advisor to the live arts programme in the Museo’s Public Activities Department. Both are members of the ARTEA research group.
Juan Domínguez is a performer, choreographer and curator who lives and works in Berlin. His work explores the relationship between different codes, advocating the complete dissolution between fiction and reality — using the former to produce the latter, and vice versa — and facilitates participation and the idea of co-authorship among all agents involved in an aesthetic experience. His most recent performances most notably include Rhythm Is The Place (2023), as well as This Is Not Normal (2021) and This Is Still Not Normal (2022), both in collaboration with Arantxa Martínez Fernández. He was the artistic director of the festival In-Presentable, La Casa Encendida (2003–2012) and co-curator of Living Room Festival (2010–2017), the Picnic Sessions, Museo CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (2013–2015) and the Festival Avant-Garten in the International Sommer Festival-Kampnagel (2017), Hamburg (Germany), among others.
Tim Etchells is an artist and writer from the UK whose practice oscillates between performance, the visual arts and fiction. He has directed the Forced Entertainment group, based out of Sheffield (England), since it was founded in 1984, and his visual work has been shown and presented at institutions around the world. Etchells has collaborated with different musicians, artists and performance creators, for instance Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods, Marino Formenti, Taus Makhacheva, Vlatka Horvat and Aisha Orazbayeva. His monograph on contemporary performance and Forced Entertainment, Certain Fragments (Routledge, 1999), has received widespread acclaim and his most recent publications most notably include Amends (Monitor Books, 2023), Endland (And Other Stories, 2019), Vacuum Days (Storythings, 2012) and While You Are With Us Here Tonight (LADA, 2013). He received the Manchester Fiction Prize in 2019.
Adrian Heathfield is a writer, dramatist and curator. His work spans live art, experimental theatre and dance, and he is the author of Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh (The MIT Press, 2008) and the editor of other books, including Things That Go through Your Mind When Falling. The Work of Forced Entertainment (Spector Books, 2023), a recent work on the group’s trajectory published in conjunction with their 40th anniversary. He was curator of the exhibition Doing Time, presented in the Taiwan Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, and co-curator of the programme Live Culture at London’s Tate Modern in 2003. Heathfield has collaborated with numerous artists on dramaturgy, writing, film and performance projects. He was chairman of the Performance Studies international platform from 2004 to 2007 and is an emeritus professor in Performance and Visual Culture at Roehampton University (London).
Isabel de Naverán holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country and is an independent researcher. She is part of the ARTEA research group, her studies exploring the crossroads between art, contemporary choreography and performance in curation, publishing and writing projects. In 2010 she founded, with Beatriz Cavia, Miren Jaio and Leire Vergara, the project Bulegoa z/b – Office for Art and Knowledge, with which she was associated until 2018. She is the author of Envoltura, historia y síncope (Caniche, 2021) and Ritual de duelo (Consonni, 2022). Currently, she is a live arts advisor in the Museo Reina Sofía’s Public Activities Department and a research fellow in the Azkuna Zentroa Centre of Contemporary Society and Culture in Bilbao.
Giulia Palladini is a researcher and critical theorist whose work spans different languages and fields of knowledge, exploring politics and erotics in artistic production, as well as social and cultural history from a Marxist and feminist perspective. She has worked as a full professor of Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Roehampton (London), and an Alexander von Humboldt fellow and lecturer at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee (Germany). She is the author of The Scene of Foreplay: Theater, Labor and Leisure in 1960s New York (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and the co-editor, with Marco Pustianaz, of Lexicon for an Affective Archive (Intellect Books, NInA and LADA, 2017). In 2021, she directed the international research group Feminismos Antipatriarcales and Poetic Disobedience, which is part of the collaborative project Queer Feminist Currents.
José Antonio Sánchez is a lecturer in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) in Cuenca and the founder of the ARTEA research group and the MA in Performing Arts and Visual Culture, organised by UCLM and the Museo Reina Sofía. He is the author of Brecht y el expresionismo (UCLM, 1992); Dramaturgias de la imagen (UCLM, 1994); La escena moderna (Akal, 1999); Prácticas de lo real (Visor, 2007); Cuerpos ajenos. Ensayos sobre ética y representación (La uÑa RoTa, 2017); and Tenéis la palabra. Apuntes sobre teatralidad y justicia (La uÑa RoTa, 2023). Furthermore, he has coordinated different events of thought and creation, for instance Situaciones (1999-2002), Jerusalem Show (2011) and No hay más poesía que la acción (2013), and co-directed, with Juan Ernesto Díaz and Ruth Estévez, the stage version of Palabras ajenas (2017-2018), by Argentinian artist León Ferrari. He has also been part of different work groups in the Museo Reina Sofía in relation to performing arts and live arts.
Forced Entertainment is an experimental theatre company, founded in Sheffield (England) in 1984, devoted to creating theatre works, performances and participatory projects locally, nationally internationally. Its mission is to explore the possibilities of playful art, and its power to provoke and capacity to connect with people. At the heart of the company is a group of six artists: Tim Etchells (artistic director), Robin Arthur, Richard Lowdon (designer), Claire Marshall, Cathy Naden and Terry O'Connor. The group also collaborates with associate artist Tyrone Huggins and guest artists such as Seke Chimutengwende, Nicki Hobday and Jerry Killick.