New York

Tehching Hsieh

Jack Tilton / Anna Kustera Gallery

From September 30, 1978, to September 29, 1979, Tehching Hsieh lived inside a locked cage, eleven-and-a-half by nine by eight feet. He wore a white laborer’s uniform and refrained from speaking, reading, writing, watching television, and listening to music or the radio. The room was a barren environment, furnished only with a cot, mattress, pillow, blanket, sink, and wastebasket. His only human contact came when an aide brought food and disposed of his body waste, and on several scheduled occasions when the public was invited for visits in the spirit of exhibition openings.

Hsieh was not languishing in jail but living in a cell built inside his Tribeca studio. Although we might want to think of the time he spent in the cage as, say, spiritual penitence, the performance’s blunt strength lies in the literal duration of time spent and life lived. Art and life converge to the extent that both

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