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Serving time with performance art

Updated: 2013-07-12 14:24
By Lance Crayon (

Serving time with performance art

Waiting to Punch the Time Clock [Photo by Cheng Wei Kuong/provided to]

Tehching "Sam" Hsieh moved to New York City from Taiwan in 1974, and within seven years the high school dropout had become one of the most important performance artists in the world.

Hsieh's work has appeared at both the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Guggenheim in New York City, and was featured at the 2010 Liverpool Biennale Festival of Contemporary Art in 2010.

From 1978 to 1986 Hsieh completed five one-year performance art works in New York City. His first performance piece saw him living in a cage in his studio for one year. His second performance, Time Clock Piece, consisted of him punching a time clock on the hour every hour for one year, and it's this work that is now on display at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in the 798 arts district.

UCCA director Philip Tinari told China Daily, "We thought this piece was the most visually compelling and also the most direct distillation of his whole artistic outlook which is very much about time and the idea that life is a life sentence."

Earlier this year the US art and culture magazine Complex featured the 25 Best Performance Art Pieces of All Time, and Hsieh’s Time Clock Piece was listed at #11.

Hsieh lives in New York City and retired from producing art in 2000. The media-shy artist declined an email interview request and instead referred China Daily to an interview conducted by Adrian Heathfield as part of the book Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History.

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