...This rather remarkable performance was one of several which the Taiwanese artist Hsieh performed in New York beginning in the late 1970s. In his first (begun in 1978), he locked himself in a room and vowed not to leave for a full year and, furthermore, not to speak to anyone, watch television, or even read during that time. In his next project (begun in 1980), he vowed to punch in on a time clock every hour, on the hour (24 hours a day), for a full year. Hsieh’s next performance (begun in 1981) consisted of remaining outside for a full year (including a New York winter), never once entering a structure with any sort of roof (this is the only one of his performances which he failed to complete, on account of being arrested near the end of the performance). Following his 1983 “Rope” performance, his final year-long performance was the paradoxical commitment not to “do art” (including talking about art, reading art, viewing art, etc.) for a full year. This was then followed by the multi-year (1986-1999) “performance” consisting of a commitment not to “make art” or to “show it publicly” until the end of the millennium.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Carlos Rojas discusses several works of contemporary Taiwanese art and notions of identity and body. This passage about performance artist Hsieh Tehching stood out to me mostly because I'd never heard of him, but also because I'm perhaps far too cynical to understand the art of pain. Asian artists seem to have a unique penchant for such artistic expression. Witness perhaps the classic example of Yukio Mishima's morbid fascination with death, which led him eventually to take his own life through seppuku. How can this penchant be explained?