Culture & Arts

Tehching Hsieh's 'One Year Performance' 1980 (VIDEO)


Do you ever have those nights where it feels like you wake up and look over at the clock every hour? That is how performance artist Tehching Hsieh felt for 8760 hours straight.

In Hseih's second year-long performance piece, Hsieh punched a time clock every hour on the hour from April 11, 1980 to April 11, 1981. Just to be clear, that means he did not sleep for more than 59 minutes at a time for a whole year. In fact each time he punched the clock he took a picture of himself in the exact same location. He had also shaved his head right before the piece, so its regrowth illustrates time's passage.

The performance focuses on the nature of time when it is stripped of the activities that often occupy it. Hsieh confronts the equation of time with work and the manner in which our accomplishments are judged by how long they take. Time becomes homogenized, mechanized and compartmentalized at the mercy of the work day. While normally a clock measures our work, here punching the clock becomes Hsieh's work. We see time purely passing, free from any other event. Aside from staying awake, of course.

The video below has clips from the piece and comment from the artist

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