Out of Now.
The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh.
By Adrian Heathfield and Tehching Hsieh.
Art by Tehching Hsieh.
Mit Press, Cambridge, 2009. 384 pp., 173 color and 140 black & white illustrations, 10x12½".
In the vibrant downtown Manhattan art scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh made an exceptional series of artwork. Hsieh realized five separate one-year-long performances that were unprecedented in their use of physical difficulty over extreme durations and in their absolute conception of art and life as simultaneous processes.
In the unfolding series of these projects Hsieh moved from a year of solitary confinement without any communication, to a year in which he punched a worker’s time clock in his studio on the hour every hour, to a year spent living without any shelter on the streets, to a year in which he was tied closely to the artist Linda Montano without ever touching and, lastly, to a year of total abstention from art activities and influences. In 1986 Hsieh announced that he would spend the next thirteen years making art but not showing it publicly. This final lifework—an immense act of self-affirmation and self-erasure—came to a close at the turn of the millennium.
For many Hsieh is a cult figure. The rigor and dedication of his art inspires passion, while the elusive and epic nature of his performances generates speculation and mythology. After years of near-invisibility Hsieh has now collaborated with the writer and curator Adrian Heathfield to create this meticulous and visually arresting record of the complete body of his artworks from 1978-1999.
Out of Now is the first extensive critical account of these remarkable works. Heathfield's astute meditation is complemented by an intensive exchange with the artist and a set of letters from leading art theorists Peggy Phelan and Carol Becker, and the internationally acclaimed artists Marina Abramovic, Santiago Sierra, and Tim Etchells.
This exquisitely composed volume is essential reading for all those interested in art history, conceptual art, visual culture, and the practice of performance.
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