I will be starting my residency at Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival next week. During my residency, I will begin my first proposition of thinking and action by being a witness and attending performances throughout the festival. During this time of witnessing, I will not make any comments on what the future of opera is. On the last three days of the festival, I will collaborate with Music Director and Conductor, Orlando Cela at The Place, where we will explore ways to get a closer understanding of Tehching Hsieh’s unique artistic approaches and to move beyond avant-garde experimental performance collaboration.

“The invisible museum is opened to you when you have opened yourself to discovery. It is a state of being.” 8 Session-Experiments

My ‘Silent Opera’ will present the six perspective on life and art offered by Tehching Hsieh’s six durational lifeworks (performed between 1978 to 1999) through a series of propositions for thinking and action. These propositions were written based on my reflections on and responses to Hsieh’s aesthetic of life and art. They contain no narrative or representational meanings.

Completion of week 1 residency on 1 August: 

It is not performance, it is not avant-garde, it is not improvisation, it is not experimental, it is not conceptual art, it is not durational, it is not new opera, it is not new work, it is not creativity, it is not production. I started by being a witness and gather a first sound of the ‘Silent Opera’.

The Work-in-Progress Performance will display the Posters and Statements from Tehching Hsieh’s five One Year Performances and one Thirteen Year Plan, which he performed between 1978 and 1999. Drawing on Hsieh’s concepts of Life is a life sentence, life is passing time, life is freethinking, I will further develop my aesthetic of silence by questioning what it means to think, love, fail, sense and become, and by “keeping absence remain” in my silent opera.

This follows on from my recent May-June “8 Session-Experiments” with 23 international Contributors from a diverse backgrounds of artists, composers, conductors, writers, curators, singers, dramaturges, choreographers and philosophers. View Contributors’ thoughts – Video Podcast, 1:18 minutes | published 13 July 2018


26 July – 18 August 2018 Li-E Chen Residency at Tête-à-Tête the Opera Festival

Li-E Chen: Proposition for a Silent Opera at an Invisible Museum – I am a museum
Thursday 16th, Friday 17th, Saturday 18th August
7.30PM – 8.30PM
Lecture Room, The Place, 17 Duke’s Rd, London, WC1H 9PY


Blog post (7 of 8) July 2018 | liechen.com/silentopera


“Looking through the eyes of the artist to see life. ”

“Expanding the possibilities.”

“I want to spend more work (time) on things.”

“Becoming is an event, movement is passing in time and space. Becoming is not movement.”



“The invisible museum is opened to you when you have opened yourself to discovery. It is a state of being.”

“Art should make up for what’s not working in life. Shouldn’t be boring – we are enough bored already.”
– from Contributors


I have just finished conducting the ‘8 Session-Experiments‘ as part of my R&D. Each session explored a different element: music, voice, movement, text, action and visual in a non-narrative and non-representational form.

Contributors were invited to engage in my process of the project to be part of my development which aims to further develop my aesthetic of silence and for further new collaboration.

Find out more:

Video Podcast (duration: 1:18) published 13 July 2018

1 MAY – 30 JUNE 2018

Blog post (6 of 8) JULY, 2018 | liechen.com/silentopera




Li-E Chen, Research, New York | 12 – 22 December 2017

On two artists who both work with Silence: Robert Wilson and Tehching Hsieh

  • Four Days to Robert Wilson’s archives in NYC
  • Two Visits to Tehching Hsieh’s studio in NYC
  • One Day to The Watermill Center and Robert Wilson’s Collections in Long Island, outside NY
  • Two Days to The Columbia University Libraries Rare Books and Collections on Robert Wilson’s Papers 1969 – 1995 in NY

Photo by Li-E Chen, Research on The Robert Wilson Archives at the Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation – Robert Wilson: HAMLET: a monologue


Reflections on my research visits December 2017:

  • How do I begin?
  • What do I want to write?
  • … before language from Hsieh’s action and Wilson’s opera
  • dictionary: action
  • dictionary: opera

I do think the lifework of Hsieh’s posters and statements have already have given me a great appreciation of the artist’s work. To me, the documentations were his witnesses and evidence, each has a life of its own in each duration. The duration of life itself whether it is seen or unseen, it is less important. But his labour of passing time and wasting time show in his posters and statements that says a lot to me for my imagination and breath into the artist’s work.

‘The word opera means work if you go back to the Latin. It was the beginning.’
– Robert Wilson

It is also the plural form of ‘opus’ which is Latin for work, labour, a work. I am exploring Tehching Hsieh’s work of ‘no-work’ for further development of the project. I am not responding to his biography, nor am I focusing on selected records of his conceptual documentations.

I do hope to develop my own way of considering a precise relationship with time the way that Robert Wilson’s has with his aesthetic of seeing and hearing, and Tehching Hsieh’s has with his aesthetic of living and thinking.


I returned to London 1-1-2018 | Happy New Year 2018

Very excited to see Hsieh’s first Chinese video interview being published with English translation. Published by 藝術很有事 Inside the Arts 12-1: Tehching Hsieh’s Doing Time on Jan 1, 2018.

‘Everything I did, or anything I didn’t do, are in fact a part of my life’s work, … My documentation is only beginning for others to follow and a trigger for their thoughts, to feel and to imagine the things I did.’

– Tehching Hsieh

This is a very fascinating interview of Tehching Hsieh’s Doing Time. It was my first time that I heard the artist speaking about his work in Chinese to the public.


Blog post (4 of 8) JAN, 2018 | liechen.com/silentopera


Li-E Chen: Thinking Posture

Thinking Posture 思想姿态 [Sī Xiǎng Zī Tài] and its Chinese characters together express the idea and the aesthetics behind my R&D Silent Opera on the Life and Art of Tehching Hsieh.

思(sī) to think; to cogitate:


Original form was , considered to be a phono-semantic compound (形聲): phonetic囟(fontanel) + semantic 心(“heart”). It may also be a ideogrammic compound (会意): 囟 (“fontanel”) + 心(“heart”).

Thanks to Yiwen Li (Research Assistant) for providing above references for my research. The compound of [思 (sī) to think] must stand up on its own without being affected by the public or others.

Li-E Chen: Proposition For Making A Silent Opera At An Invisible Museum

Proposition For Making A Silent Opera At An Invisible Museum is a participatory-conversation experiment that I conducted for my research and development of a silent opera project. I invited the public and contributors to join me on the development of opera writing, which is written in the form of propositions for thinking and action


OCTOBER 7, 2017 1PM – 5PM



Blog post (3 of 8) Oct, 2017 | liechen.com/silentopera