Tehching Hsieh, “One Year Performance” (1980–81), performance, New York, still images from 16mm film (© Tehching Hsieh, courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery)

Taiwan’s exhibition for the 2017 Venice Biennale — Doing Time — will open at the Palazzo delle Prigioni on May 10. Curated by Adrian Heathfield, the exhibition features the works of artist Tehching Hsieh, and will be on view for from May 13 to November 26, 2017.

As a member of Manhattan’s Downtown art scene in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the young Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh embarked on five separate yearlong performances. Working outside the art world’s sanctioned spaces and economies, Hsieh made a strict rule that governed his behavior for the entire year. The performances were unprecedented in terms of their use of physical difficulty over extreme durations and in their absolute conception of art as a living process.

Doing Time exhibits two of Hsieh’s One Year Performances together for the first time, assembling his accumulated records and artifacts into detailed installations. In “One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece),” Hsieh subjected himself to the dizzying discipline of clocking on to a worker’s time clock on the hour, every hour, for a whole year. In “One Year Performance 1981–1982 (Outdoor Piece),” Hsieh inhabited a further sustained deprivation: he remained outside for a year without taking any shelter. Together these monumental performances of subjection mount an intense and affective discourse on human existence, its relation to systems of control, to time, and to nature. Hsieh’s fugitive presence — traced throughout — speaks both of the abjection and ingenuity found in survival by those who have nothing. During the course of his One Year Performances, Hsieh was an illegal immigrant.

The exhibition also takes its spectators back to three of Hsieh’s previously unseen works: short performances and photographs, all made in Taipei in 1973 before his emigration. Each piece singularly investigates the ground, its relation to organic events and to image capture. Together, the works chart Hsieh’s course away from abstract painting and mark his emerging interests in action, repetition, and serial images. Hsieh has been actively engaged in this recovery of past works, and the exhibition involves a re-construction of a lost film.

In addition to the revelation of Hsieh’s early artistic concerns, a new short documentary on the artist by photographer Hugo Glendinning, Outside Again, will be screened continuously, and a publication with new critical essays on the artist by Adrian Heathfield, Joshua Chambers-Lesson, and Jow Jiun Gong accompanies the exhibition. At the opening and closing of Doing Time, Hsieh and Heathfield will be joined for talks at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia by leading thinkers from the fields of visual art, performance, philosophy, anthropology, and architecture. Speakers will respond to the exhibition and discuss the relation of Hsieh’s work to questions of endurance, labour, and waste. Capacity is limited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Press Conference and Opening Reception:
May 11, 2017, 6–7pm

Opening Talk:
Art of Existence
May 12, 2–4:30pm
Fondazione Querini Stampalia Auditorium
Santa Maria Formosa 5252, 30122 Venice
Speakers: Tehching Hsieh, Adrian Heathfield, Carol Becker, Peggy Phelan, and Jane Rendell

Closing Talk:
Wasting Time
November 24, 2017, 2–4:30pm
Fondazione Querini Stampalia Auditorium
Santa Maria Formosa 5252, 30122 Venice
Speakers: Tehching Hsieh, Adrian Heathfield, Tim Ingold, Bojana Kunst, and Jow Jiun Gong

Visit taiwaninvenice.org for more information.