Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit

When 9 May 2020 - 17 Aug 2020
Where SculptureCenter
44–19 Purves Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States
Enquiry 718-361-1750

[Sculpture Center is temporarily closed, please read the organizer's most recent newsletter about this exhibition as well as related materials about the artist Tishan Hsu here.]

On this day, we were scheduled to open Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit, the artist’s first institutional survey in New York. Organized by SculptureCenter, the exhibition remains in the closed galleries of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where it debuted in January. In this month’s Artforum, artist Matthew Ronay and art historian Lane Relyea recount their experiences looking at and learning about Hsu’s work. While we wait for the exhibition to materialize in New York, we offer art historian Jeannine Tang’s essay for the exhibition’s catalog and a selection of archival materials pulled from earlier decades that help to flesh out a context for Hsu’s work then and now. In many ways, Hsu’s work from the 1980s (the majority of the exhibition) distilled the violent flux of technological change that we now recognize and feel acutely in our work and personal lives. “This is the suffering, untheoretical part of Hsu’s art,” Ronay writes. “A body falls apart, only to cybernate later.” What is it about the time between then and now that brings the latencies of Hsu’s work to the fore again?

Hsu, referencing Elaine Scarry, once remarked that while the critical theory of the 1980s grilled the subject and saw its autonomy emptied out, pain remained the nagging anchor that kept it from dissipating into thin air. In other words, it was pain that kept the genie in the bottle of embodiment. Feminist, queer, post-colonial theories of situatedness responded to the abstract universal of the dead subject, and resurrected it as a zombie that haunts the nimbus of the myth of infinite excavation. Similarly, the current suffering inflicted on the social body reveals the fallacy of the idea that living, working bodies are absolutely negated in the vapor of financial extraction. The zombied subject is a cyborg, as Hsu declares, and his art imagines a world within which the new subject emerges, wounded, staggering, shapeshifting, and resisting containment within prescribed forms of personhood.

Image courtesy of the event organizer.

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