One Year Research and Development Project: A Silent Opera on the Life and Art of Tehching Hsieh
12 September 2017 – 12 September 2018.
“Life is a life sentence;
life is passing time;
life is freethinking.” Tehching Hsieh
Li-E Chen conducts a series of experiments to begin her process of developing a ‘silent opera’ based on the life and art of American-Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh. Li-E aims to bring the concepts behind Tehching Hsieh’s six life durational performances – five One Year Performances: 1978 – 1986 (the “Cage Piece,” “Time Clock Piece”, “Outdoor Piece,” “Rope Piece,” “No Art Piece”) and Tehching Hsieh: 1986 – 1999 (“Thirteen Year Plan”) – to a silent opera.
Tehching Hsieh has inspired her to push the boundaries of art and performance by aiming to go beyond the need for narrative, contexts, materials or representational meaning. He has been an important influence on Li-E’s work since she discovered him in 2009 during her Whisper artist residency at the Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester.
Tehching Hsieh’s concepts of bringing his “thinking process” into becoming a lifetime art work explores different orientations towards thinking – what Li-E Chen calls “thinking postures,” a term she uses for the disposition of mind and body that affects one’s ways of living, thinking, and artistic making. Li-E’s silent opera will response to Hsieh’s work by developing different assemblages of her “thinking process” using a series of Participatory Conversation/Experiments in reflection to his division of time into life time and art time; this division operates outside of language and ordinary conceptions of time.
This research blog documents Li-E’s Research and Development process of the project 2017 – 2018. Her project is being supported by Arts Council England, Southbank Centre, Live Art Development Agency, Tête-à-Tête International Opera Festival, and Royal Holloway, University of London. She would like to offer special thanks to all her supporters, and for the additional support by Tehching Hsieh, and provided by The Robert Wilson Archives at the Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation in New York, Improbable’s Devoted and Disgruntled in the UK. All these organisations, as well as her team, advisers, participants and contributors have made possible her artistic development and the research for this silent opera.