Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun attended the opening ceremony of the Taiwan Pavilion at 57th Venice Biennale on May 11 to express her gratitude to artist Tehching Hsieh for his participation.
Describing Hsieh as “an artist’s artist,” the Minister noted that his art has the ability to bring viewers face-to-face with their most basic thoughts and private contemplations. She quoted the artist, who once said that his art was not work or profession, but rather an exercise of the freedom to think about life.
Minister Cheng acknowledged that while governmental accreditation and endorsements may very well be frameworks that narrowly define Hsieh’s art, she still extends her gratitude to Hsieh for representing Taiwan on the global art stage.
The disciplined 66-year-old is best known for his “art is a living process” conviction. His monumental works taking place outside the art world’s sanctioned places often involve time, deprivation, and abject conditions. The Pingtung native starts each work by releasing a statement outlining a strict set of rules that will govern his behavior for the entire year.
Titled “Doing Time,” the Taiwan Pavilion will showcase “One Year Performance 1980-81,” in which Hsieh subjected himself to clocking on to a worker’s time clock on the hour, every hour, for a whole year; and “One Year Performance 1981-82,” when he remained outside for a year without taking a shelter. Each work convenes different methods of documentation, challenging what it might mean to archive a life.
The Minister also visited exhibitions featuring other Taiwan artists at the Venice Biennale, including Paris-based Taiwanese artist Lee Ming-wei and sculptors Shih Li-jen and Lee Kuang-yu, the latter of whom was the featured artist at the National Pavilion of San Marino.
The Minister thanked all the participating artists for bringing Taiwan’s arts overseas and onto the international arena, stating that “the artists are trying this hard, the government had to come over [and show support], too!”
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