works                     text  




[ Grumble ]

6. Procrastination

Thoughts are always spinning around in my head when I facilitate Not Really Really (17-SS-4). Ideas and emotions evoked by the work are unpredictable, complicated and fragmentary. The longer I hover around the work, the more concepts and challenges it brings up in my mind. Procrastinating, while waiting for the next time to change the egg yolk, has led to the following question: what is my position at this specific time; an artist, a performer, a facilitator, or an object? I assume that when I am waiting for the next change in egg yolk that instead of acting, I am actually nakedly exposing my thoughts through my posture and movements in the gallery.

I treat myself as part of the medium of the work but, simultaneously, I also need to provide for my own everyday ordinary life needs. For example, eating, reading, chatting and sleeping. But none of these behaviours belong to the work. Even though I don't want to, I cannot but have to separate my life when working with Not Really Really (17-SS-4) into two halves. It is a conflicting period of internal and external time and through being subservient to the work I can become confused about whether I am truly alive. The lack of living in the habitual everyday world transforms me, in part, into an object.

In contrast, during the relatively short period it takes to exchange the egg (which has now become the subject) my life is made significant. However, during the endless pauses, I am inactive and constantly provisional, waiting for the next changing of the egg yolk. As a result, I am experiencing the swapping of roles between the subject (often the human in the artwork and subject relationship) and object (usually pictured as the artwork) during my performance of Not Really Really (17-SS-4).

Tehching Hsieh, Time Clock Piece (One Year Performance 1980-1981), 1980

No doubt the work has affected my life and caused me to think about various human and object relationships. However, the endurance I face is not as extreme as the durational piece, One Year Performance 1980-1981, Time Clock Piece (1980-1981) produced by the artist Tehching Hsieh. For one year, from 11 April 1980 through 11 April 1981, Tehching Hsieh punched a time clock every hour on the hour. Each time he punched the clock, he took a single picture of himself with a 16mm movie camera, which together yielded a 6-minute film animation. He shaved his head before the piece, so that the growing of his hair reflected the passage of time. Hsieh dedicated himself to the strict discipline of a time clock; during a whole year, as a labourer, he stamped a timecard in a time clock every hour.[1] During the whole year of performing this work, he acted as an object in service of the concept of labour time and its organisational structures. In this work, Hsieh is no longer a labourer who produces facilities and/or commodities but the servicer of the time clock itself. His labour has been displaced from the factory and is centred around the maintenance of the instrument (object) itself. This can be interpreted as questioning the parameters of the structuring of labour, as well as Hsieh’s artistic labour, and the objectives of capital. Perhaps while showing Not Really Really (17-SS-4), I am more like a part-time labourer. I service and maintain the work (changing the egg yolk during the gallery’s opening hours) and outside of this I am also maintaining myself (going to work and classes). During that time, the boundaries of both subject and object are blurred, both are transformed from a clearly defined role to an uncertain position. I become a split subject/object, which problematizes the binary distinction between these two positions. 


© 2012-2023  Chen, Yun-Ling. All rights reserved