Tehching Hsieh

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Tehching Hsieh exhibition at MoMA, 2009

Tehching (Sam) Hsieh (謝德慶; born 1950, Nanjhou, Pingtung County, Taiwan) is a noted[1] New York City-based performance artist; he has been called a “master” by fellow performance artist, Marina Abramović.[2]

Early life[edit]

Tehching Hsieh dropped out from high school and started creating art in the form of paintings; he went on to create several performance pieces after finishing his three years of compulsory military service in Taiwan. In 1974, Hsieh jumped ship to a pier of the Delaware River, near Philadelphia, and made a living as a dishwasher and cleaner during his first four years in New York.

Career[edit]

From 1978–1986, Hsieh accomplished five One Year Performances; from 1986–1999, he worked on what he called his "Thirteen-Year Plan". On 1 January 2000, in his report to the public, Tehching Hsieh announced that he has kept himself alive. He stopped making art since then.

In 2008 MIT Press published 'Out of Now, The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh'[3] by Adrian Heathfield and Tehching Hsieh - a monograph with documentation, essays by academics and artists and an extended conversation with Hsieh.

In 2009, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York exhibited a collection documenting his performance.[4] The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York also showed one of his works in 2009 as part of its retrospective exhibition, "The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia: 1860-1989."

Hsieh is represented by Sean Kelly Gallery.

Works[edit]

He is most known for six durational performance pieces completed between 1978 and 2000.

One Year Performance 1978–1979 (Cage Piece)[edit]

In this performance, which lasted from September 29, 1978 through September 30, 1979, the artist locked himself in a 11′6″ × 9′ × 8' wooden cage, furnished only with a wash basin, lights, a pail, and a single bed. During the year, he was not allowed to talk, to read, to write, or to listen to radio and TV. A lawyer, Robert Projansky, notarized the entire process and made sure the artist never left the cage during that one year. A friend came daily to deliver food, remove the artist's waste, and take a single photograph to document the project. In addition, this performance was open to be viewed once or twice a month from 11am to 5pm.[5]

One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece)[edit]

For one year, from April 11, 1980 through April 11, 1981, Hsieh punched a time clock every hour on the hour. Each time he punched the clock, he took a single picture of himself, which together yield a 6 minute movie. He shaved his head before the piece, so his growing hair reflects the passage of time.[6]

Documentation of this piece was exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2009, using film, punch cards and photographs.

This work was the first of Hsieh's ever to be displayed in the UK at the Liverpool Biennial in 2010[7]

One Year Performance 1981–1982 (Outdoor Piece)[edit]

In his third one year performance piece, from September 26, 1981 through September 26, 1982, Hsieh spent one year outside, not entering buildings or shelter of any sort, including cars, trains, airplanes, boats, or tents. He moved around New York City with a packbag and a sleeping bag.

Art / Life: One Year Performance 1983-1984 (Rope Piece)[edit]

In this performance, Hsieh and Linda Montano spent one year between 4 July 1983 and 4 July 1984 tied to each other with an 8-foot-long (2.4 m) rope. They had to stay in a same room while not allowed to touch each other until the end of the one year period.[8] Both of them shaved their hair in the beginning of the year, and the performance was notarized initially by Paul Grassfield and later by Pauline Oliveros.

One Year Performance 1985–1986 (No Art Piece)[edit]

For one year, Hsieh did no art, spoke no art, saw no art, read no art, and did not enter any museum or gallery.

Tehching Hsieh 1986–1999 (Thirteen Year Plan)[edit]

At the beginning of this epic piece, Hsieh declared, “Will make Art during this time. Will not show it publicly.” This plan began on his 36th birthday, December 31, 1986, and lasted until his 49th birthday, December 31, 1999.

At the end, on January 1, 2000 he issued his concluding report, “I kept myself alive. I passed the December 31st, 1999.” The report consisted of cutout letters pasted onto a single sheet of paper.

Philosophy[edit]

His pieces are not feats of stamina nor (consciously at least) motivated by a desire to suffer (though they have been described as ordeals[9]), but rather are explorations of time and of struggle.

According to critic Steve Shaviro, Hsieh's work can be seen as being about imprisonment, solitude, work, time, homelessness, exposure, marriage/human relations, and the way in which art and life are related.[9] Hsieh states his work is about "wasting time and freethinking"[10]

Awards[edit]

Hsieh received a Hoi Fellows Grant from the arts organization United States Artists in 2008.[11]

Sources[edit]

  • [2] Tehching Hsieh
  • [3] New York Times – "Performance 1: Tehching Hsieh"
  • [4] Out of Now

References[edit]

  1. ^ Delia Bajo; Brainard Carey (Aug–Sep 2003). "in conversation: Tehching Hsieh". The Brooklyn Rail. 
  2. ^ Kate Sutton. "Manchester United". artforum.com. 
  3. ^ http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/out-now
  4. ^ Performance 1 on Artabase
  5. ^ Smith, Roberta (2009-02-19). "A year in a cage: A life shrunk to expand art". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  6. ^ Biggs, Domela, Waldron and Kirk (eds) "Liverpool Biennial International Festival of Contemporary Art The Guide". Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art Ltd. ISBN 978-0-9536761-8-7. p122
  7. ^ Biggs, Domela, Waldron and Kirk (eds) "Liverpool Biennial International Festival of Contemporary Art The Guide". Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art Ltd. ISBN 978-0-9536761-8-7
  8. ^ "The Year of the Rope: An Interview with Linda Montano & Tehching Hsieh". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Shaviro, Steven. "PERFORMING LIFE: THE WORK OF TEHCHING HSIEH". Archived from the original on 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2008-06-08. )
  10. ^ "Out of Now: Tehching Hsieh's lifeworks"
  11. ^ [1]

External links[edit]

  • Video interview in the Art Newspaper with Jean Wainwright, 7 April 2009: [5]
  • Interview with Robert Ayers, April 2009: [6]
  • "Body of Art" audio slideshow on BBC radio 4: [7]