This essay asserts that One Year Performance (Outdoor Piece, 1981-1982) conducted by Taiwanese-American artist, Hsieh Tehching, actively generates a critique towards the modern state and society. As a space-oriented piece, it is set in dialogue with Hsieh's pervious pieces while resonating with his martial law body memories in Taiwan and Fluxus art movement in New York City. Recent art historians have rightly considered Hsieh's works as a durational aesthetic, yet they also overlook the mobility and nomadism that Hsieh carries out in his search for art-fertilization under the restricted atmosphere in postwar Taiwan and his illegal alien status in U.S. In addition, art historians neglect the politic messages that are inherent within his travels from Taiwan to New York and from his self-isolated cage to an exploration of the metropolis.
This essay aims to trace and specify Hsieh's grand voyage, a migrant body as both an aesthetic and political site. Crystallized in the third piece of his One-Year Performance series, Outdoor Piece, this piece sets him in motion from sedentariness to itineracy and mobilizes his vulnerabilities. Through living a nomadic, outdoor life in New York City for a year, Hsieh's reveals his body memories under the dictatorship in postwar Taiwan, reconciled with the state apparatus, and more importantly, reframes his performance to a critical site-specific art. This one-year nomadic life leads Hsieh to a line of flight away from the modernized body desired by the state and the conundrum of his own art practice. In this light, Hsieh's use of body in Outdoor Piece is reformed by postwar art, identity, and history of Taiwan.
Hsieh Tehching, Nomadism, Line of Flight, Deleuze and Guattari, performance art, Deterritorialization