The Show is a large scale installation work by British artist Tim Etchells, the full text for which announces, in a bold playful imperative, THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON. The work is at once a reference to the postponement of larger-audience theatre events during 2020 due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and at the same time a striking, open call for social pause, critical reflection and political change. Etchells’ ambiguous provocative détournement of an upbeat English idiom ‘THE SHOW MUST GO ON’ becomes ‘THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON’ – a simple linguistic reversal which creates complex new possible meanings.

“As the 2020 pandemic has devasted lives and economies, our models of human interaction, social structures and priorities have been called into question, albeit to different extents, and with different motivations in different international contexts. Such limited, temporary changes as there have been in these last months though, only serve to underscore the need for deeper, more permanent change. The year 2020 is not only the time in which Corona has amplified global and local injustices and inequalities, it’s also the time in which Black Lives Matter protesters have courageously demanded equality and justice for Black people, and in which the pressure on governments to address the climate crisis has continued with urgency and passion. The hasty return to ‘business as usual’ after periods of Corona lockdown, already effected across many countries, suits vested interests, whilst the possibilities of a pause, with its much needed revaluation of habitual thinking and practice, represents an opportunity we should not be afraid to embrace” Etchells says.

Tim Etchells

Tim Etchells is an artist and a writer based in the UK. He has worked in a wide variety of contexts, notably as leader of the world-renowned performance group Forced Entertainment and in collaboration with a range of visual artists, choreographers, and photographers. His work spans performance, video, photography, text projects, installation and fiction. He is currently Professor of Performance & Writing at Lancaster University.