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artist response

Artist response: Tehching Hsieh one year performance (1980-1981)

Born in Taiwan in 1950, Hsieh is best known for the one-year performances he undertook while living in New York from the 1970s onwards. One of these performances, Time Clock Piece (One Year Performance 1980–1981) 1980–1981, involved punching a time clock every hour for a year.

Focusing on notions of productivity and unproductivity,

Hsieh, writes Ash Dilks, ‘has taken art to the limits of what is feasible and possible’ through his attempts to collapse the boundaries between what Hsieh calls ‘art time’ and ‘life time’ in his mentally and physically demanding one-year performances

Another significant theme that the artist took up is time. Hsieh outlined the premise which forms the basis of each of his one-year performances: that a fundamental ‘precondition’ of all life is the passing of time, or that ‘life is a life sentence’.

(https://www.tate.org.uk/research/research-centres/tate-research-centre-asia/event-report-tehching-hsieh) 

For me during lockdown, I felt this pull of unproductive/productive questioning what the time I was spending at home was doing/saying/expressing – was there a pattern to my day? Was there something I wasn’t seeing as time wasnt as easily documented. How would I come to remember this day from that, or this whole period?

I started with polaroid photos (one everyday for the first month of lockdown so I have around 70 of those but I wanted to examine my time further than one snap a day – I wanted to see hour by hour.  So, I migrated to 72 hours of waking life documented on digital camera which is the response you see below. 

Guided by the ideas:

In my own house, how was I still performing and what was I performing? How did observation of the hours turn them from unproductive to productive? 

I modelled this hourly approach on Tehching’s, he was very much the inspiration. However mine was very much waking hours!

By Tara Griffin