Tehching Hsieh (謝德慶), a duress artist best known for his yearlong performances, helmed the Taiwan Pavilion at Venice Biennale this year.
Curated by Adrian Heathfield, a professor of performance and visual culture at the University of Roehampton, the Taiwan Pavilion was aptly titled "Doing Time” to reflect the strenuous life of Hsieh.
Based in Taipei and New York, the disciplined 66-year-old engages in long-duration performances to make art and life simultaneous, thereby achieving one of the most radical approaches in contemporary art.
Some of his remarkable performances include "Jump,” in which he broke both of his ankles; "One Year Performances,” in which he devoted 365 days to documenting one aspect of his life; and "Thirteen Year Plan,” in which he restricted all showcases of his work during a thirteen-year period.
These astounding 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 abject conditions and ingenuity of survival for those who have nothing. During the course of his "One Year Performances," Hsieh was an illegal immigrant in the United States.
Describing Hsieh as "an artist's artist," Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun 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.
"Doing Time" exhibited two "One Year Performances" and made public three short performances and photographs for the first time. "Outside Again," a documentary following Hsieh's visit to the original sites of his performances in Taipei and New York, was also screened at the Pavilion.