Monday, May 4, 2009

One Year Performance

I've become very fascinated by this artist I discovered during our visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. The artist's name is Tehching Hsieh, and he explored some very extreme forms of performance art over a series of years. The 'piece' (if you can even call it that) on display at the MOMA involved the artist voluntarily locking himself up in solitary confinement for a year in 1978, as an exploration of the passage of time as art.

Taken from Wikipedia: One Year Performance 1978–1979 (Cage Piece): September 29, 1978 through September 30, 1979.
In this performance, the artist locked himself in a 11′6″ × 9′ × 8″ wooden cage, furnished only with a wash basin, lights, a pail, and a single bed. During the year, he was not allowed to talk, to read, to write, or to listen to radio and TV. A lawyer, Robert Projansky, notarized the entire process and made sure the artist never left the cage during that one year. A friend came daily to deliver food, remove the artist's waste, and take a single photograph to document the project. In addition, this performance was open to be viewed once or twice a month from 11am to 5pm.

I'm sure many of you are thinking this was a complete waste of a man's life, which may or may not be the point of his pieces that explored time and human nature. But even if you fail to appreciate this for what it is, the photographic display of his portraits by the day is very interesting, and I'd hazard a guess that this is the first 365 photo project that everyone seems to be doing nowadays on Flickr, etc. Seriously though, check out his website to see the other challenging performances that he completed. You haven't seen dedication or belief in art until you've seen what he went through in each of his one year performances.



  1. This post made me teary.... sort of a surprising response I suppose. I am just so astonished by his dedication. Amazing.

  2. Teary? Wow. I guess I'm not quite that sensitive. But yes, agreed on the magnitude of this guy's dedication to his work. I try to imagine what it would be like to not talk, read, write, or do basically anything other than exist for a year straight. No interaction with the world whatsoever. The mere thought of it is enough to make me scared. Imagine what went through his head in the minutes before he entered that cell.