Friday, September 30, 2011


Tuesday October 4th, 2011 at 7pm
133/141 West 21 Street, Room 101C

Is it possible to define a cogent code of ethics in art writing? In this panel discussion, four young contemporary art writers–Adam Kleinman, Quinn Latimer, Patricia Milder and Matthew Schum–will investigate the problem of ethics in relation to their own work and to criticism at large.

Adam Kleinman is a writer and curator and dOCUMENTA (13) Agent for Public Programming. Kleinman is a frequent contributor to multiple exhibition catalogs and magazines including Agenda, Artforum, e-flux journal, Frieze, Mousse and Texte zur Kunst.

Quinn Latimer is an American poet and critic based in Basel, Switzerland. Her criticism appears regularly in Artforum and Frieze, and she has also written for Art in America, ArtReview, Bookforum, East of Borneo, Interview, Kaleidoscope, and Modern Painters.

Patricia Milder (MFA Art Criticism and Writing, 2010) is an art and performance writer, and independent curator based in Brooklyn. She is the Managing Art Editor of The Brooklyn Rail; she also contributes regularly to Artcritical and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art.

Matthew Schum studies modern and contemporary art in the Visual Arts Department at the University of California at San Diego. In 2011 he has been based between California and Italy, where he is serving as an editor for Flash Art International in Milan.

Aimee Walleston (MFA Art Criticism and Writing, 2009) is a writer based in New York City. She contributes regularly to Art in America online, Flash Art, V Magazine, The New York Times' the moment blog and The Last Magazine.

Free and Open to the Public

Thursday, September 1, 2011

V/Tehching Hsieh

“He has made the most radical performances in the world, and nobody has done it longer or better than he has,” says Marina Abramovic of her hero, Tehching Hsieh. “Because of the speed of life, young audiences have been trained to have a minimal attention span. His pace is an inspiration to them.” In speaking of Hsieh, Abramovic quite correctly lionizes an individual who has created work that beautifully articulates the limitless capacity for intellectual, emotional, and creative freedom that all human beings possess. The Taiwanese-born artist, who came to his current home of New York in 1974 as an illegal immigrant, is best known for the performance pieces of extreme duration that he began creating in the late ’70s. His first work, One Year Performance 1978–1979 (Cage Piece), consisted, infamously, of the artist enclosing himself in a cage in his Tribeca studio for one full year. For Hsieh, it was a situation indistinct from ordinary living, filled with the same raw emotions. In this case, however, those emotions remained contained within his eleven-by-nine-foot cell. “The joy I’ve had from doing art is not based on masochism, but on the transformation in which one turns his or her plight in a difficult situation to a positive state,” says Hsieh. “I haven’t denied my happiness and freedom. Instead, my work is based on free will and free choice.”
Hsieh’s seminal work concretized how the existential cages that we humans inhabit are the products of our own design. Far from using his performances to educate or entertain an audience, however, the artist kept them relatively private. “During the year-long performances, the days open to the public were limited,” he says. “This was intentional, because the quality of isolation was important for me. The audience had to use their own life experience and thinking to imagine the work.” The most important artifacts of his performance are the photographs, films, and writings that document it—as well as the memories of his audience. “Now I would use video,” he says, “as a method to witness the authenticity of the work. But I don’t think this will necessarily help others understand the work better.”
In 1983, Hsieh began his first and only collaborative piece, One Year Performance 1983–1984 (Rope Piece), with Linda Montano. For one full year, the two artists were attached by eight feet of rope. It was during this time that he met Marina Abramovic, who could in some ways be seen as Hsieh’s spiritual cohort. Simultaneously, Abramovic was creating, with her partner Ulay, pieces of a certain similarity to Hsieh and Montano’s, including a sixteen-day piece, part of the “Nightsea Crossing” series, wherein Abramovic and Ulay sat across from each other in a gallery for seven hours at a time. “Marina and I both use long duration to do performances,” Hsieh says. “In Marina’s work, the communication between her and her audience is important. In my work, I’ve tried to limit it, in order to remain isolated. We interact with the audience from different directions.”
Abramovic has pointed out another difference between her projects with Ulay and Hsieh and Montano’s Rope Piece: the pieces with Ulay were performed by two people in love. When Abramovic visited Hsieh and Montano during their performance, she noticed there were scratch marks on the headboard where they slept. Apparently, the two artists, who were not romantically involved and remained abstinent during the project, would claw at the bed in frustration at their chosen situation (Hsieh also used his fingernail scratches to create a makeshift calendar during Cage Piece). While lovers like Abramovic and Ulay quite often have a similar urge to destroy furniture, Hsieh and Montano’s Rope Piece exists more as an object lesson in the psychological confines of love: one finds freedom within the suffocation of attachment—until reaching the end of the rope. But, despite the difficulties involved, both artists stayed true to their course, and only separated after the full year was over. “The work consumed me physically and mentally, but I had to do it,” Hsieh recalls. “I’ve suffered while doing my work, but people suffer in life now and then.”