Tehching Hsieh and his Extreme Performance Art

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Of all the “curious undertakings” of performance artists, none have been as striking as Tehching Hsieh’s lifeworks, observes the Chronicle Review, in a review of Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, newly available from MIT Press. In 1986, the artist dropped out of the public eye to begin his final performance piece, “Thirteen Year Plan,” a period during which he would make art but not show it publicly. He emerged in 1999 with a ransom note bearing a simple message: “I kept myself alive.”

In addition to “Thirteen Year Plan,” the dedicated Hsieh did a series of one-year pieces, which included spending a year in communication blackout (no reading or writing, either), a year spent in a room punching a worker’s clock on the hour, repeatedly, and a year of total artistic abstention. “Although [Hsieh’s works] attracted a cult following in New York and Taiwanese performance-art circles, they took place out of view of the art world, which barely mentioned them,” reports the Chronicle. But the mainstream art world has “finally clocked in,” with Hsieh’s works earning exhibits at the Guggenheim and MoMA.

Source: Chronicle Review (article not available online).

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