Presented by the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture & The Fales Downtown Collection. Co-sponsored by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU.
“To me, he’s a master. I am just a little student of him.” —Marina Abramovich
Where to start with Tehching Hsieh? Born in Taiwan, a high school dropout, a nascent artist who created a piece entitled Throw Up in which he kept eating fried rice until he vomited, then a seaman who jumped ship near Philadelphia and blew nearly all his savings by taking a cab to New York, Hsieh spent much of the 1970s toiling in restaurants and on construction sites.
In 1978, he embarked on a series of year-long projects. Each was brutally minimalist. In Cage Piece he locked himself in a wooden cage and didn’t speak, read, write, or listen to the radio for the next twelve months. In Time Clock Piece he punched a time clock – on the hour, every hour. Outdoor Piece prevented him from going inside any building – even during a winter so cold that the East River froze. In Rope Piece he and fellow artist Linda Montano stayed tied to each other with an eight-foot-long rope.
Hsieh has been endlessly pushed to explain his work. “Life is a life sentence,” he once said. “Life is passing time. Life is free thinking.”
Join writers Lisa Hsiao Chen (author of Activities of Daily Living) and Eugene Lim (author of Search History) as they think about Tehching Hsieh—as well as assemble a gift for him. For one night only, the Fales Downtown Collection will be exhibiting selections from its archives documenting Hsieh’s work, including the Rope Piece with Linda Montano.
Lisa Hsiao Chen was born in Taipei and now lives in New York City. She has written for The Baffler, The Brooklyn Rail, and Brick; and her books include the 2022 novel Activities of Daily Living (a New York Times Editor’s Choice) and the poetry collection Mouth (Kaya Press, 2007). She has received a Writers’ Award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and fellowships and residencies from the Center for Fiction, the Vermont Studio center, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Eugene Lim is the author of the novels Fog & Car (Ellipsis Press, 2008), The Strangers (Black Square Editions, 2013), Dear Cyborgs (FSG Originals, 2017), and Search History (Coffee House Press, 2021). He works as a high school librarian, runs Ellipsis Press, and lives in Queens.