Tehching Hsieh Performance Art and Physicality

Performance Art and Physicality

To attempt to define such a broad and moving term such as art in a single short paper would
surely be too ambitious, however I will attempt to explore one aspect of it's definition: physicality. Some may define art as something pretty, a simple stimulation of retinal pleasure.
Others may define art as a physical representation of an idea. Artists such as Tehching Hsieh seem to refute both positions and challenge the definition even further by proposing that perhaps even the complete representation of the idea may not be necessary, that the idea and act of doing is enough to qualify it as art. For some people, accepting art as more an idea than something pretty is easy enough, but can reducing that piece to only an idea still be considered art? I would argue that yes, it can.
Tehching Hsieh, pronounced dur-ching-shay in Taiwan, is a Taiwanese American performance artist still living today, and is mostly known for his “one year performances” occurring between 1978 and 1986, in which he lived out a year of his life at a time under a certain set of limitations for each performance piece. If he can be said to make use of any medium, it would be the space he uses, his body, and time. Truly though, his art pieces are simply ideas, limitations used to explore the condition of the human mind, and carry themes of time, isolation, and struggle.
For example, in Hsieh's first one year performance, he lived in solitary confinement and
deprived himself of nearly all forms of communication and contact with the world outside his cell. He deprived himself of conversation, reading, writing, television, and radio, and had his friend Cheng Wei take care of his basic needs to survive throughout the year. Sometimes, others were allowed to witness Hsieh in his confinement, however he would never converse or interact with these people. This performance piece isolated Hsieh from any outside influences, and it created the perfect environment for him...