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Hardcover | ISBN: 9780262012553 | 384 pp. | 10 x 12.5 in | 800 color illus.| December 2008

Out of Now

The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh


In the vibrant downtown Manhattan art scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh made an exceptional series of artworks. Hsieh realized five separate one-year-long performances that were unprecedented in their use of physical difficulty over extreme durations and in their absolute conception of art and life as simultaneous processes.

In the unfolding series of these projects Hsieh moved from a year of solitary confinement without any communication, to a year in which he punched a worker’s time clock in his studio on the hour every hour, to a year spent living without any shelter on the streets, to a year in which he was tied closely to the artist Linda Montano without ever touching and, lastly, to a year of total abstention from art activities and influences. In 1986 Hsieh announced that he would spend the next thirteen years making art but not showing it publicly. This final lifework—an immense act of self-affirmation and self-erasure—came to a close at the turn of the millennium.

For many Hsieh is a cult figure. The rigor and dedication of his art inspires passion, while the elusive and epic nature of his performances generates speculation and mythology. After years of near-invisibility Hsieh has now collaborated with the writer and curator Adrian Heathfield to create this meticulous and visually arresting record of the complete body of his artworks from 1978-1999.

Out of Now is the first extensive critical account of these remarkable works. Heathfield's astute meditation is complemented by an intensive exchange with the artist and a set of letters from leading art theorists Peggy Phelan and Carol Becker, and the internationally acclaimed artists Marina Abramovic, Santiago Sierra, and Tim Etchells.

This exquisitely composed volume is essential reading for all those interested in art history, conceptual art, visual culture, and the practice of performance.

Co-published with the Live Art Development Agency

About the Authors

Adrian Heathfield is Professor of Performance and Visual Culture at Roehampton University, London. He is the editor of Live: Art and Performance, Small Acts, and Shattered Anatomies.

Tehching Hsieh is an artist based in New York City.


"An aesthetic object in itself, Out of Now is a unique contribution to the field that blurs distinctions between theory and practice and offers a compelling exploration of the relationship between performance and the act of writing about performance." —Lara Shalson, The Drama Review

"The visual and emotional yield of Hsieh's works is overpowering: the 365-image photo-essay ofthe year that Hsieh and artist Linda Montano spent tethered to one another with an eight-foot-long rope tells a story as rich, engrossing and rewarding as an epic novel. The stark, basic design wisely lets the evidence do the dazzling."—artasiapacific


"Out of Now traces the practice of one of the great artists of our time. With immense courage, Tehching Hsieh revolutionized performance art: while many were sprinting, he did marathons. Hsieh anticipated our times, in that he made time his medium.This impressive and beautifully written book offers the first comprehensive study of an outstanding body of work. An extraordinary performance!"
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Gallery

"Tehching Hsieh has created a profound body of 'lifeworks' that integrate the live with the aesthetic, producing hybrid experiences that question the very nature of what we call 'art.' This brilliant book, which includes documentation and smart, poetic, and historically inflected writing by Heathfield is an invaluable record of Hsieh's work. A unique commentary on the writing of the histories of art and performance."
—Amelia Jones, Professor and Pilkington Chair,Art History and Visual Studies, University of Manchester

"Life is brought to life (again, again, again) in its withdrawal—as routine ecstasy, in erotic privation, through flesh’s serial vacation of now, which makes now urgent. This urgency, given yet again in Tehching Hsieh’s and Adrian Heathfield’s collaboration, again and again and uncontainably Out of Now."
Fred Moten, Professor, University of California, Riverside