Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Linda Montano and Tehching Hsieh are both performance artists who hit their artistic peak during the 70s in New York City. Montano, a former devout catholic, had spent most of her artistic career doing pieces which focused on some sort of struggle. One of her early performances saw Montano blindfolded for three days as she tried to find her way out of where she was. Hsieh's performances up to this point were very similar. His first, and arguably most popular, performance was titled "One Year Performance: Cage Piece." Hsieh simply lived in a cage in an art gallery with nothing but a wash basin, lights, a pail, and a bed (don't worry, a friend came in and gave him food and emptied his gross bathroom bucket once a day).

Montano and Hsieh sort of met by chance: one day Montano spotted a poster for one of Hsieh's performances, and she claims a voice in her head said to her "you must work with this guy." She sought him out and they hit it off immediately. Soon thereafter they announced their collaborative one-year performance in which they would be tied together for the entire duration of the year, by one single 8 foot rope. The "statement" (re: press release) read as follows:

July, 1983


We, LINDA MONTANO and TEHCHING HSIEH, plan to do a one year performance.

We will stay together for one year and never be alone. We will be in the same room at the same time, when we are inside. We will be tied together at the waist with an 8 foot rope. We will never touch each other during the year.

The performance will begin on July 4, 1983, at 6 p.m., and continue until July 4, 1984, at 6 p. m.

—Linda Montano
—Tehching Hsieh

I read a pretty damn interesting interview with both Montano and Hsieh (scroll down for the link), with both expressing their experience. However, I found myself hilariously in disagreement with Montano's ideas of what art is throughout the interview. Hsieh seems to be more aware of what he is trying to get at, and one quote of his really struck me as intriguing:

Hsieh: because we are two individual human beings and two individual artists tied together for 24 hours a day and so individualism is very natural to this piece. It's interesting to me because if we want to be good human beings and good artists at the same time, that's one kind of clash and struggle. Also if we want a relationship and independence at the same time, that creates a double struggle.

Hsieh and Montano came up with numerous daily routines, and all sorts of ways to communicate throughout the year. They both seem to find the performance to be wildly successful, yet only they really know what happened throughout that year, as it was not displayed nor ever showcased.

After this performance together, Hsieh went on to do two more year long performances: one where he lived outdoors entirely for a year, and another where he did not read, speak, view, or make any art whatsoever. Montano continued down a similar path, doing performance pieces wherein she would live at home, wearing only monocromatic clothing. She then would enter differently colored rooms, and trying to connect with different qualities of specific chakras.

In the end, I found this collaboration extremely fascinating. Reading the interview, it was awesome to see how even though these two individuals who share a similar artistic lifestyle, can clash with ideologies and intent (whether they realize it or not), yet still come out not completely hating each other after being tied together for an entire year.

Interview source link: http://www.communityarts.net/readingroom/archivefiles/2002/09/year_of_the_rop.php

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