Tehching Hsieh Jake Peck
One Year Performance 1980 - 1981
I feel very fortunate to be able to attend this exhibit as well the lecture with Tehching Hsieh. As a growing artist myself i find that i am very attracted to the aesthetics of repetition in art form, and with many of Tehching Hsieh piece’s i found repetition to be a constant through all his work. He did not discuss this variable but it was clear he used this to his advantage and had great effect, especially through his One Year Performance 1980 - 1981. With this piece and the different elements that he incorporated, from the time cards and pictures taken every hour and then compiled into a stop animation film and the displaying of the gallery, i think really lends itself to a very dynamic piece in a gallery.
He spoke briefly about each piece he did that all extended for year long journeys and i found myself amazed that any individual could possess that much determination and self discipline to be able to obtain these massive goals. They do not sound like huge achievements but once given some thought as he explains the details of his journey and goes through his documentation, its overwhelming to be able to strive for these goals.
I thought to myself of the feelings and emotional turmoils he might have experienced through these times and why he would choose to do another year long piece? These pieces were no small matter and took an entire year of his life each time! The Cell would be just like jail, i would imagine. And i question why anybody would voluntarily choose to go through such a process. Was it for self discovery? Or self discipline? Was it to learn something? And then i thought about his culture and wondered if anyone could proclaim their life to one year long goal and that is it. After thinking about it i guess there are others that perform year long journeys within their lifetime, such as individuals involved in religion. Native Americans send their young boys out to fend for themselves and jehovah witness send their young boys out on a journey to spread the word of their religion before settling down. So i guess there are others who do similar things but just different and for different meaning and the meaning to me was where it peaked my curiosity with Tehching Hsieh pieces, because he had no “reason” to do these year long pieces, or so i thought. Talking with him at the opening i approached him to ask him his reasoning behind his pieces. His thick accent is hard to listen through but i enjoyed being able to talk to him one on one and through our talk he explained to me that he kept no journal or diary and even though i might be fascinated what he was going through emotionally and mentally he did not want that to be a part of his piece. He explained that everybodys experiences are different and lead us all to different paths and he wanted his piece to be able to allow viewers to experience it for themselves. It could not be sweeter for me to hear this. I too have the same feelings. Its easy to explain my experience to others but we all go through our personal experiences in life which shape us to the individual we become so as such i will not view the passing of my family dog the same way my neighbor would. This opened so much for me being able to hear this through a recogised and respected artist. All his work had some emotional termoil and some strugle he had to over come but by not telling the viewer it allows for a more personal and intimate experience through his art. I then start to imagine myself in his shoes and try to understand what his day to day was while in the process of his year long journeys.
Being able to talk with Tehching Hsieh individually was very rewarding and motivating. To hear how he experiences art and his thought process is very motivating and inspiring. I found a new fondness for his work, at first it was superficial for me because i liked how it looked, how it was presented and appeared in the gallery space. But the journey into the work and the consciousness it took to create something on such a level was rewarding to find. Art is held on so many levels and i'm finding out that it doesn't matter what level you are on because its introspective and allowing others to look in, they might not agree or even get it and if thats the case it is not a failure in your efforts to convey or converse fully you idea, concept or vision, it just is what it is.
I wonder if Tehching Hsieh would perform another year long piece. I did not ask him this question but curious after his years of experience, after his years on this earth and years of trials and tribulations what his thought is now? Would a year devotion to one isolation of work be a waste of time? Would he find comfort back in “old” techniques? Would he have the patience? What are his thoughts of his past art and is there future art to be made?
We all change over time, i would hope, because if no change is gained then we stay constantly the individuals we once were and to never grow into something else. I am curious as to how Tehching Hsieh feels he has changed or grown into the man he is today. His pieces were each a year long and you figure the individual experiences so much in one year of life and to limit those experiences or to manage them the way Tehching Hsieh has, it had an effect on him, good bad or indifferent im curious.
Tehching Hsieh’s art raises so many question and yet it is rather straight forward and simple, but it deals with human psyche and the inner scope of oneself, which varies so widely from person to person.