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If Marina Abramović is the “mother of performance”, than who the “father” is? It is Tehching Hsieh, Taiwanese-American artist who gave the world between 1978 and 1999a series of perhaps the most forthright performances in art’s history. On 26 August (6 pm) Tehching Hsieh will visit Warsaw’s Centre for Contemporary Art (CSW) to present his works and talk to director Fabio Cavallucci and the audience as part of the centre’s Performance Day.

Before 2000 Tehching Hsieh had produced only six performances. But five of them lasted the whole year long, being rightly called One Year Performances.

In the first of them, non-officially called Cage Piece,the artist locked himself in a cage located in his apartment. During the year, Hsieh did not talk to anybody, had nothing to read or listen to, and spend his time thinking and counting the days.

In the second one, entitled Time Clock Piece, Hsieh would punch a time clock every hour on the hour, 24 hours a day, the whole year long. Each time he punched the clock, he used a camera to take a single picture of himself. Together they yield a 6 minute movie, in which each day is shrunk to one second.

In his third one year performance piece, the artist decided to spend one year outdoors, not entering buildings or shelter of any sort.

The fourth performance, entitled Art/Life, was a collaboration with Linda Montano. The pair spent one year tied to each other with a rope. They had not known each other prior to the project.

The fifth performance was about abstaining from making or experiencing any kind of art for a year.

Earthis Hsieh’s latest and longest-lasting performance. It began in 1986 and lasted until the end of 1999. During this time Hsieh made art but would not show it publicly. What art? Come to the meeting at CSW and find out for yourself.

More about the artist:


Curator: Fabio Cavallucci

A film documenting the project will be screened in CSW’s main lobby until 15 September 2013.

Admission free

Coordinators: Katarzyna Tomczak-Wysocka, Ita Krajewska

Tehching Hsieh was born in 1950 in Nan-Chou, Taiwan. His father, Ching Hsieh, was an atheist and his mother, Su-Choung Hong, a devoted Christian. Hsieh dropped out of high school in 1967 and took up painting. After finishing his army service (1970-1973), Hsieh had his first solo show at the gallery of the American News Bureau in Taiwan. Shortly after this show, he stopped painting. In 1973, Hsieh made a performance action, Jump Piece, in which he broke both of his ankles. He was trained as a sailor, which he then used as a means to enter the United States. In July of 1974, Hsieh arrived at the port of a small town by the Delaware River near Philadelphia. He was an illegal immigrant for fourteen years until he was granted amnesty in the US in 1988.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Hsieh made five One Year Performances and a Thirteen-year Plan, inside and outside his studio in New York City. Using long durations of time as context for the work, making art and life simultaneous, the first four One Year Performances made Hsieh a regular name in the art scene in New York; the last two pieces, in which he intentionally retreated from the art world, set a tone of sustained invisibility.

Since the Millennium, released from the restriction of not showing his works during the period of the Thirteen-year Plan, Hsieh has exhibited his work in North and South America, Asia and Europe. Hsieh’s One Year Performance 1978-1979 (often referred to as Cage Piece) was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in Performance 1: Tehching Hsieh in 2009; One Year Performance 1980-1981 (Time Clock Piece) was included in The Third Mind: Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989, at the Guggenheim Museum, 2009, the Liverpool Biennial in the United Kingdom and the Gwangju Biennial in South Korea, both in 2010, and in the São Paulo Biennial, 2012.

PERFORMANCE DAYis a new, long-term project of CSW, aiming to showcase and promote performance artists. As of 22 April, on each third Monday of the month, the Ujazdowski Castle or its surroundings will host performances from Polish and foreign artists. PERFORMANCE DAY, together with CSW’s two other serial projects Bank Pekao PROJECT ROOM and VIDEO ROOM, makes Mondays a day to spend at CSW for all contemporary art lovers.

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