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MoMA Exhibition Focuses on Pioneering Performance Artist Tehching Hsieh
Tehching Hsieh (Taiwanese American, b. Taiwan 1950), One Year Performance 1978–1979, Life images. Photo: Cheng Wei Kuong. Copyright © 1979 Tehching Hsieh, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art presents Performance 1: Tehching Hsieh, an installation documenting the work of pioneering performance artist Tehching Hsieh (Taiwanese American, b. Taiwan 1950). The exhibition focuses on Hsieh’s earliest performance, Cage Piece (1978-79), in which the artist spent one year locked inside a cage constructed in his Hudson Street loft in New York City. During that period the artist did not speak, read, nor interact with the world in any way, while a friend of the artist assisted with food, clothes, and refuse. The exhibition is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Chief Curator, Department of Media, with Jenny Schlenzka, Assistant Curator for Performance, The Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition will be on view from January 21 through May 19, 2009, in The Yoshiko and Akio Morita Gallery on the second floor.

Performance 1 includes the original cage used in the performance and objects from its interior (sink, bed, mirror, lamp, etc.); 365 self-portrait photographs with which Hsieh documented the passing of time, placed throughout the gallery; 17 large-scale photographic portraits of Hsieh from that period; along with posters and statements connected to the performance. Performance 1 also features posters and materials from Hsieh’s subsequent One Year Performances and his final work, termed Thirteen Year Plan, which was completed in 1999 after a process that lasted 13 years. Hsieh is working closely with the organizers of MoMA’s exhibition to provide materials and assistance with the installation of the works.

Jenny Schlenzka states: “Hsieh's works stand out for their enormous duration and the great physical strain they demand. With rigorous discipline and endurance, the artist created situations in which life and art became simultaneous. In his work, the conventional distinction between artistic time and lived time becomes meaningless.”

Cage Piece is Hsieh’s first One Year Performance out of a series of five. Between 1980 and 1981, the artist spent one year punching a time clock every hour on the hour. From 1981 to 1982, he lived outdoors for one year without shelter. Between 1983 and 1984, Hsieh was physically tied to the artist Linda Montano without touching her. And finally, he spent one year (1985 to 1986) without making, viewing, discussing, reading about, or in any other way participating in art.

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