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True Riches: a programme of Live Art for the ICA




The Centre of Attention
'Live don't live here anymore'


At the opening, all the artists, performers and curators in True Riches come together and stand outside in front of the ICA.

They all sing:

'You abandoned me
Live don't live here anymore
Just a vacancy
Live don't live here anymore

... etc'

The performance is filmed and shown through the rest of the exhibition.

The Centre of Attention,
January 2009

Live don't live here anymore at the ICA



True Riches is a Live Art exhibition curated by Tim Etchells and Ant Hampton with:

Geraldine Pilgrim, José Antonio Sánchez, La Ribot, Gary Stevens, Vivi Tellas, Nicolás Goldberg, Christine Peters, Yara El-Sherbini, David Rosenberg / Shunt, Rajni Shah, Bill Aitchison, Goran Sergej Pristas, Frauke Requardt, Momus, The Centre of Attention, Duckie, Lois Keidan, Borrowers-International-Network, Hannah Hurtzig, Home, Zhana Ivanova, Station House Opera, Janez Janša, Stefan Kaegi

Download the full True Riches programme here

Visit the Live Art website here


Filling a gap, and always willing to lend a hand when major arts organisations fail to do their jobs properly, we are delighted to announce the re-opening of the ICA Live Art Department, albeit in imaginary form.

True Riches is an independent curatorial project comprising virtual programming and proposals from an international group of artists, curators and thinkers working in and around Live Art.


The closure of ICA’s Live Arts and Media Department was announced by Ekow Eshun, (Director ICA, London) in October 2008 (and became a fact at the end of November) with an accompanying email statement in which he remarked that the area of practice lacked the 'depth and cultural urgency' necessary to command the continued resources and focus of the institution, arguing that in any case ICA’s commitment to live practice would continue to happen ‘naturally’ through the programming initiatives of the remaining departments.

We sincerely doubt that such a scenario will work out well for ICA’s profile of and commitment to Live Art. In fact ICA's lack of interest in Live Art over the last several years has been manifest and despite earlier eras of commitment to the form - with programming in theatre and gallery spaces, commissions, discussion events and platforms - they've long since ceased to be considered as much of a player in the Live Art area. How the closing of the Live Arts Department would improve this already grim situation seems at best pretty hard to explain.

Some believe that Live Art in London/UK can do well enough without the ICA - concentrating their efforts on other spaces and communities, creating different relations to the institutional practice of art. We do have plenty of passion and support for these kinds of practices and positions. At the end of the day though, we also think that in a city as big, culturally rich and varied in its makeup and history as London is, it is important that an arts centre like the ICA, should give adequate space to this important area of contemporary practice. The ICA in London, positioned at the city’s geographical centre and as its experimental vanguard, should embrace and champion the possibilities of Live Art to speak to the contemporary situation and to address publics in the most extraordinary, thought-provoking and challenging ways. ICA is perceived by many on the international scene as a model contemporary arts space. Live Art - with all of its hybrid tendencies, its blurring of boundaries, its fun, vitality, energy and relevance really should be there with the full weight and resources of the institution.


The project True Riches – an imaginary season which runs from now until the end of 2009 at the ICA - arises from our invitations to around 25 individuals to make proposals for works, seasons and themed and un-themed programmes. It gathers materials which stem from a variety of approaches, tendencies, and impulses in the live art sector – from the satirical critical to the archival, from the comical subversive to the theoretical investigative. None of these events will happen but it's good to know that were this season to become a reality we'd even have a buffet of zero gravity food.

The ICA Live Art Department, even though it does not exist, is alive and well and glad of your support. We would like to extend our thanks to the many artists and curators who have joined us to make the varied proposals, statements and programmes that comprise True Riches. We hope that you’ll join us, in imagination, for these and other events. We can dream perhaps that London would have a place where such things were possible.

Tim Etchells / Ant Hampton


Contact: the Centre of Attention, 67 Clapton Common, London E5 9AA, UK
Tel: +44 20 8880 5507