Sunday, May 10, 2015

Artist Lecture - One Year Performance 1980-1981

Last month, I went to the Sheppard Gallery to see the exhibition that held Tehching Hseih’s one year performance piece that took place from 1980-1981. The one year performance piece consisted of Hsieh dressing up and punching in a time clock at the beginning of every hour for a whole year. That means he punched in at the time clock twenty four times a day for three hundred and fifty six days. The feat to keep up such a methodical routine every day for a year is extremely astounding to say the least. 

It was stated that Hseih missed about one hundred eighty three times. When I heard that, I was highly impressed. I cannot blame anyone for missing that many times, and I would have actually thought he had missed a bit more. I also could appreciate what he said before about his tradition to shave his head in the very beginning of his performance pieces. That feat in itself acted as a good marker of time. In the beginning, he was clean shaven in face and head, and he looked so haggard by the end of the pictures. I think one of the best parts about being in the exhibition was trying to find those pictures that were different even slightly than the rest. I kept focusing on the times in the pictures and the slightest differences in the background or Hseih himself. It actually felt like a very legitimate find when I’d find such a picture since, compared to the others, it would stand out so much more which drew my attention. 

The posters that talked about Hseih’s performance pieces were quite interesting as well. For one, the pictures were in black and white creating a very old style photograph feeling to me. Of course, there were posters on his other pieces, but the ones talking about the 1980-1981 pieces were by far the most interesting. The use of the projector to show the looping pictures was a nice touch too for those who would rather not look at three walls almost entirely covered in pictures.

Overall, the exhibition was one of the most impactful for me. In a small town like Reno, I never expected to be able to get the chance to see such a big name artist talk or show his work in the university. The experience itself was worth more than words could tell.

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