Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Linda Montano & Tehching Hsieh | Rope

Linda Montano, Tehching Hsieh
Art/Life One Year Performance Poster [Rope]
New York City, USA: Self-published, 1983
43 x 28 cm.
folded poster
Edition size unknown

From the 4th of July, 1983 until the 3rd of July, 1984, performance artists Linda Montano and Tehching Hsieh were tied together by an 8 foot rope. They were never to be apart for the full year,  but also not allowed to touch one another.

The work is a conflation of a Montano solo piece from ten years prior called Handcuff, in which she cuffed herself to the artist Tom Marioni for three day intervals (the work was presented as a series of thirty minute videos) and the One Year Performances of Hsieh. These included Cage Piece, in which the artist lived for 365 days in a small jail cell, Time Clock Piece in which he punched a clock every hour of the day, on the hour, for a full year and Outdoor Piece, in which he did not enter a building or shelter of any kind for the entire year. Following Rope Piece Hsieh completed two more epic durational works: No Art Piece, in which he did not engage with art for a full year and Thirteen Year Plan, in which he neither produced nor exhibited work for the remainder of the millennium.

The contract for Rope, dated July 4th, 1983, and signed by the two artists, stated the following:


We, Linda Montano and Teheching 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 waist with an 8 ft 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.

Hsieh describes the work as a relational piece:  "We were tied by a rope and stayed in the same room without touching for a year. There were always other people in my first three One Year Performances, but they were behind the scene; in this piece the Other became visible".

Montano described the process to Susan Silas:

"Before I met him, I was living in a Zen monastery in Mt. Tremper, New York and it was difficult to come out of hiding, out of the monastery, to adopt art again and say my practice is not just meditation, it’s not just the monastery. But the allure to work with him was strong. Martha Wilson introduced us and he was looking for someone to work with, to be tied with. The backstory is that the intensity of being with him, of being conscripted—I’m thinking military—because it was such a disciplined and militaristic piece—the intensity of being tied 24/7— in the bathroom at the same time, in the same room at the same time and yet the beauty of working with such a master—I really consider him a master, was worth the drama and interior struggle. And it helped me to think about time in a different way because I had done the handcuffed piece and blindfolded pieces but they were different time frames. When I left him I came back upstate still very attached to the form, to the discipline, to the message and the job. I wanted more, so I gave myself another seven years of endurance calling it 7 Years of Living Art and the piece eventually evolved and became 14 Years of Living Art, 1984-1998.

We went into Zen mode. In the beginning we talked and then we became animals and pulled, come over here, grunted—we became Siamese twins and by the end it was all smell. Not really, but I am using the word as a metaphor. We smelled each other is how I remember it, and there was a lot of moaning and groaning and pulling and tugging and gesticulating."

A copy of the poster announcing the project is available at Printed Matter, here, for $25.00 US.

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