Tehching Hsieh

One Year Performance 1980–1981.
1980–1981 (2021)

Performanсe documentation: poster, statement, instructions, witnesses’ accounts, missed punching record, color photograph, time card, 16 mm film transferred to DVD (color, silent, 6’ 50”), dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist

For one year, from April 11, 1980 to April 11, 1981, Hsieh punched a time clock every hour and took a shot of himself on a 16mm camera. Later, he assembled the shots into a six-minute film. Before he started the performance, Hsieh shaved his head to make the passing of time better visible on the film.

Born in Taiwan, from an early age Hsieh dreamt of travelling to New York, the international center of art. Without money or connections, he found a way to leave his homeland (which was too conservative for his art) and follow his dream. In 1974, he trained to be a sailor, joined a crew, and sailed to Philadelphia, from where he moved to New York. An illegal immigrant for 14 years, avoiding public transport to minimize encounters with the police, Hsieh washed dishes during the day and searched painfully for ideas for his art at night, until eventually he had an idea that became the foundation of his practice. “One day, all of a sudden, I thought: what else am I looking for?” Hsieh recounted. “I don’t need to go out to find art, I am already in my work.” After that he chose his own life—a precious and limited resource—as his medium.