Tehching Hsieh: An Interview

Video Data Bank

2012 | 01:03:17 | United States | English | Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Interviews, On Art and Artists

Tags: Asian-American, Body, Conceptual Art, Documentation, Performance, Time, VDB Interviews, Visiting Artists Program

At the age of twenty-four, Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh (b.1950), moved to New York, where he has created and documented time-specific, conceptual art performances since the 1970s. In this interview, Hsieh discusses his formative years and philosophical moorings. This dialogue includes description of the artist’s early period of painting, his military service in Taiwan, and the cultural atmosphere of a country then undergoing massive political change. Much of the discussion focuses specifically on Hsieh’s understanding of the relationship of art and life, his investment in “free thinking,” and the politics of documentation. For Hsieh, the ability to think freely is art’s bottom line—he believes the essence of his work lies in human communication. To this end, Hsieh insists that his work, though incredibly personal, is not autobiographical, but philosophical.

In this interview, works such as Cage Piece, Rope Piece, and Time Clock Piece receive special attention. Hsieh discusses his decision to stop making art after the year 2000, and how the act of being a “believer” has defined his practice over the years. With reference to the processes of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Marcel Duchamp and Jackson Pollock, Hsieh aims to make clear the importance of painting and action to his development, while avoiding strict art historical categorizations that limit the scope of what he believes his art can achieve.

Faye Gleisser

Interview conducted by Mary Jane Jacob and Jacquelyn Bass in April 2012, edited in 2014

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