Tehching Hsieh

USA Hoi Fellow, 2008

Tehching Hsieh is a legendary performance art pioneer. Born in Taiwan, he arrived in the United States in 1974, when he jumped ship from a merchant marine vessel in Philadelphia. He settled in New York, and in 1978 he created the first of a series of one-year performances: in the Cage Piece (1978–79) he lived in a cage inside a loft with a bed and refrained from speaking or reading. This was followed by performances in which he punched a clock every hour for one year (Time clock Piece, 1980–81), lived outdoors with only a sleeping bag (Outdoor Piece, 1981–82), was tied to a fellow artist with an eight-foot rope (Rope Piece, 1983–84), and refrained from creating or talking about art (No Art Piece, 1985–86). From 1986 to 1999, in 13-Year Plan, he created art but refrained from showing it. In 2000 he stopped making art altogether. He has described his work as "about being human, how we explain time, how we measure our existence."

Portrait photo courtesy Qinqin Li

Punching the Time Clock on the Hour, One Year Performance 1980–81; photo courtesy Michael Shen