Last weekend I visited part of Old Montreal and walked along the streets, peering in through the windows of a variety of art galleries which seem to be clustered there. I had been told that in the area there was a contemporary art institute, DHC-Art, so I went along to have a look.
The exhibition was coming to an end that same weekend so I was lucky to catch it in time. The theme, Living time,
The inaugural DHC SESSION exhibition, Living time, brings together selected documentation of renowned Taiwanese-American performance artist Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Performances and the films of young Dutch artist, Guido van der Werve. Both artists perform and document mundane activities such as walking, standing or following a schedule within constraints that question the human relationship with time and the nature of existence and survival.
Living time presents selected documentation works of Tehching Hsieh : One Year Performance 1980-1981 in which the artist, dressed in a pale grey worker uniform, punches a time clock every hour on the hour for one year and One Year Performance 1981-1982 which documents the artist spending a year living outside in New York City for one year. The documentation presented in Living time includes photographs, paper documentation and films.
Two films by Guido van der Werve are also included in the exhibition: nummer acht : everything is going to be alright (2007) in which the artist films himself walking slowly across the ice-covered Bothnian Gulf of Finland followed by an enormous icebreaker and nummer negen: the day I didn’t turn with the world (2007) where the artist, documented in time-lapse photography, stands on the North Pole for 24 hours turning against time.
The works of Tehching Hsieh were striking in their adherence to some kind of generative constraint. I do not seek to celebrate his ability to withstand particular difficulties (to name but a few: sleep deprivation, living on the streets, being on display) but how he explored different ways of engaging with performance and documentation, art and life. Van der Werve’s time-lapse photography was beautiful in its simplicity and the music, composed by the artist, complemented it perfectly.
Visitors were invited to respond to the question ‘Passing time is…’ which whilst interesting was not well conceived and consisted of just scribbling a note and pinning to a board. Participation, this was not. It did make for a pretty display though.