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Tehching Hsieh, “One Year Performance 1981-1982” (© Tehching Hsieh, courtesy the artist, Gilbert & Lila Silverman, and Sean Kelly Gallery)

Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) has announced Tehching Hsieh as the sole artist representing Taiwan, with an exhibition to be curated by Adrian Heathfield, at the 57th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2017.

About Hsieh’s representation, Ping Lin, director of TFAM, states: “With high anticipation, Taiwan’s nominating committee recommend Hsieh’s vital and richly metaphorical performance art projects. Hsieh’s work not only bears witness to a visionary perspective, but also sheds light on universal human conditions through his critical enactment of a biopolitics of existence.”

Hsieh remarks: “It is a great honor to represent Taiwan at the 57th Venice Biennale. This exhibition is a rare opportunity to show previously unseen early works that I made in Taiwan, and to develop new understandings of my One Year Performances in New York. I am grateful for the support of the nominating committee, the Director of TFAM Ping Lin, Chief Curator Chaoying Wu, and for the opportunity to collaborate with curator Adrian Heathfield.”

Born in 1950, Hsieh is a critically acclaimed artist from Taiwan. His outsider journey began with his departure from the country in 1974, when he entered the United States of America as an ‘illegal alien.’ With a series of five One Year Performances, starting from 1978, Hsieh initiated a quest with his body, adopting time as his creative medium to advance his ontological exploration of human existence. This staggering series of works explores self-discipline, physical and psychological confinement, notions of freedom and exposure, and the limits of human behavior and relations.

Through an interruption of the status quo, Hsieh has attempted to rebel against the existing socio-political hegemony and strip bare the mechanisms of subjugation. His work “Cage Piece” (1978–79) was presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 2009 and “Time Clock Piece” (1980–81) at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in the same year.

Adrian Heathfield has been invited to curate the exhibition for Taiwan. Heathfield is a renowned British curator and writer with particular expertise in time-based arts: live art, dance, and experimental theater. He was a curatorial attaché for the Biennale of Sydney (2016) and is a co-director of the Bergen Assembly (2016). He has long dedicated his research to performance, and he co-authored the definitive publication Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh with the artist.

Heathfield states: “It will be a great joy to make the most extensive and in-depth exhibition of Tehching Hsieh’s work to date, spanning distinct decades, continents, and artistic propositions. The historic halls of the Palazzo delle Prigioni Venice, the former prison of the Palazzo Ducale, are an ideal setting for the work of an artist who understands more than most, the meaning and cost of ‘doing time’, and the nature of lives lived at the edges of what we call society.”

The 57th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale will be held from May 13 to November 26, 2017; press preview May 10, 11, and 12; opening to the public on Saturday, May 13.

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