For his first ‘One Year Performance Piece’ Tehching Hsieh built his own cell. The ‘Cage Piece’ limited his physical freedom, his mental freedom was also limited by a ban on reading, writing or other forms of communication. Strangely enough some of these restrictions, which Hsieh imposed on himself in 1978 to 1979, now also sound familiar to us. Similar to Hsieh, our daily limitations will provide new insights about life and thus about art.
As part of his one-year exhibition at West, Tehching Hsieh gave an artist talk on April 24, 2019. He is known worldwide for his ‘One Year Performance Pieces’ in which living and making art are for him one and the same. His work is still of great influence among contemporary performance artists, given the number of interested people who attended his talk or spoke to him at one of ‘The Encounters’, organized by West.
In the past, Tehching Hsieh spoke very little publicly about his work, claiming that the work speaks for itself. This is partly due to the clarity of his ideas, but also due to his simple yet strictly structured documentation; daily portraits photographed, video fragments, time stamps, voice recordings, city maps with notes and signed contracts. In his artist talk he takes us in chronological order through his artistic practice. He tells us why his documents are sometimes signed with the name ‘Sam Hsieh’, and why he now sees himself only as a witness to his art and not an artist. ‘Life is wasting time’ he says at the end, modestly though with a sense of humor, he adds that he hopes not to have wasted our time.