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Professor Curates Taiwan Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2017

Adrian Heathfield, Professor of Performance and Visual Culture in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance, will curate Taiwan's Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, opening in May 2017.

Posted: 22 December 2016

image for news story Professor Curates Taiwan Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2017
Professor Adrian Heathfield speaks with Tehching Hsieh at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum Venice Biennale press launch © Hugo Glendinning.

Professor Heathfield has been working for three years on a European Union funded research project investigating curatorial practice, performance and immaterial art. The invitation to curate at Venice – one of the most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art globally – grows out of this research and his recent exhibitions in Philadelphia, Sydney and Bergen.

Realised in collaboration with Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Professor Heathfield's exhibition, Doing Time, will feature a comprehensive exposition of the works of renowned Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh. An influential figure in contemporary art, Hsieh's reputation emanates from an astounding series of 'One Year Performances' made in the early 1980s: 'rule-based' works conducted at the limits of human endurance.

Doing Time promises to be the first occasion that several of Hsieh's yearlong works will have been seen together in their fullest forms. It will also reveal previously unseen early works performed in Taiwan.

Speaking at a press conference in Taipei recently, Professor Heathfield stressed the artist's "forceful address to contemporary conditions." Hsieh's art, he argued, "was very prescient in understanding that the technologies of capitalism would capture and accelerate life itself, turning experiences into productive labour."

Professor Heathfield sees the significance of Hsieh's art as arising from his art world outsider status and his years as an illegal immigrant in New York. His work strongly invokes qualities of migrant experience: subjugation, precariousness and the struggle to survive. "Each of his performances," Professor Heathfield states, "makes manifest a bare existence in which resilience is pitched against adversity, and the fugitive qualities of life are valued in their passing."

Doing Time will be open from 13th May – 23rd November 2017 at the Palazzo Delle Prigioni. The exhibition is supported by: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan), Taipei City Government, and the Department of Cultural Affairs of Taipei City Government.

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