Performance artist Tehching Hsieh will represent Taiwan at
the 57th Venice Biennale. Copyright Hugo Glendinning
On July 28, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) announced that the New York-based Tehching Hsieh, known for his long-duration performances, will represent Taiwan at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Ping Lim, the director of TFAM, which has organized the Taiwan Pavilion since 1995, remarked: “Hsieh’s work not only bears witness to a visionary perspective, but also sheds light on universal human conditions through his critical enactment of a biopolitics of existence.” The pavilion will be curated by Adrian Heathfield, who was a curatorial attaché for the 2016 Biennale of Sydney and co-authored Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh with the artist.
Born in 1950 in Nan-Chou, in southern Taiwan, Hsieh dropped out of high school to become a painter in the late 1960s. After three years of compulsory military service, he turned to performative actions before joining the merchant marines. In 1974, he walked off an oil tanker docked along the Delaware River and onto United States soil in 1974. Living in New York as an illegal immigrant, Hsieh began a series of five One Year Performances in 1978, which included Cage Piece (1978–79) for which he lived inside a cell measuring 11’6” by 9’8” within his studio for one year, without making conversation, reading, writing or watching television. The following year, beginning on April 11, 1980, at 7pm, Hsieh began punching a time clock in his studio every hour for one year. He wore a drab worker’s uniform and every time he stamped the clock, a 16mm camera recorded him. He missed punching the clock just 133 times over the course of 8,760 hours, largely due to sleeping through the hourly alarm system he had rigged for himself.
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