Category Archives: Poets

Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch, a MacArthur Fellow, has published nine books of poems, including The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (2010), which brings together thirty-five years of work.

His book-length elegy, Gabriel: A Poem (2014), which The New Yorker calls “a masterpiece of sorrow,” won the National Jewish Book Award for poetry.

He has also published five books of prose, among them, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999), a
national bestseller, and A Poet’s Glossary (2014), a full compendium of poetic terms.

He is president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

G. Bostock

BOSTOCK2016G. Bostock.  Born in Mexico City, currently works between London, Oslo and Mexico City.  The work of G. Bostock is a re-iterant exploration on these wound around the long poem.  The work sways between conceptual writing and critique of language’s conventions.  He is co-founder of Woodnote Editions, a platform for independent publishing.  His work consists of poems, sound and multimedia installations and multiples. 

G. Bostock writes in English and Spanish using language as a starting point and critique of language. His work navigates the margins of sense and meaning and concentrates on long poems that result in book objects.  These multiples relate to the traditional of conceptual art and challenges present literary practice.   During the 1990’s G. Bostock’s work concentrated in a series of long poems such as Linea and Doblez, the final print was a collaboration with artist S. Brüggemann and explores the idea of translation.  It was published in London in 2004. 

In 2007 he started a series of minimal epic poems on the nature of nomadic thought, magic, meaning and modernism.  These travel fragments were first published in Three Icelandic Poems.  Other drafts were published in the Mandorla Magazine, New Writing of the Americas, published in US and edited by poet Roberto Tejada.    

In 2009 the published the poem For With, a research on the theme of adjectives.  The same year he was invited by Hans Ulrich Obrist to participate in the Serpentine Gallery’s Poetry Marathon.  In 2010 G. Bostock suffered a hemorragic stroke caused by an underlying AVM, a very rare condition of vascular malformation.  During rehabilitation he wrote the book Gamut 2012, exploring the cycles of despondency, hope and fatigue associated with stroke recovery through iterations within the long poem.   In 2015 he published Strand Whisper Gang, a mediation on geology and slow time and the inconsistency of language.  In 2016 he published Hyaloid, a poem of found fragments that pays homage to the work of John Cage and Bern Porter. 

He is currently working on expanding the themes explored in Three Icelandic Poems. He has participated in various Art Book and Poetry Festivals in the Netherlands, UK and America.  

www.woodnote.org.uk

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Eileen Myles

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Photo by Libby Lewis

Eileen Myles is the author of nineteen books including I Must Be Living Twice: New & Selected Poems, and a reissue of Chelsea Girls, both from Ecco/Harper Collins. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Warhol/Creative Capital art writers’ grant, four Lambda Book Awards, the Shelley Prize from The PSA, a Creative Capital nonfiction fellowship 2016 & the Clark Prize in excellence in art writing, 2015.  Currently she teaches at NYU and Naropa University and lives in Marfa, TX and New York City.

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David Levi Strauss

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John Berger and David Levi Strauss

David Levi Strauss is the author of Words Not Spent Today Buy Smaller Images Tomorrow (Aperture, 2014), From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual (Oxford University Press, 2010), Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics, with an introduction by John Berger (Aperture 2003, and in a new edition, 2012), and Between Dog & Wolf: Essays on Art and Politics (Autonomedia 1999, and a new edition with a prolegomenon by Hakim Bey, 2010). Strauss was a Guggenheim fellow in 2003 and received the Infinity Award for Writing from the International Center of Photography in 2007. He is Chair of the graduate program in Art Writing at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he also runs the Art Writing Lecture series. And he is on the faculty of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.

Part two of this interview can be heard by clicking here.

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Donald Kuspit

donaldkuspitDonald Kuspit is one of America’s most distinguished art critics.  In 1983 he received the prestigious Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism, given by the College Art Association.  In 1993 he received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Davidson College, in 1996 from the San Francisco Art Institute, and in 2007 from the New York Academy of Art.  In 1997 the National Association of the Schools of Art and Design presented him with a Citation for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts.  In 1998 he received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  In 2000 he delivered the Getty Lectures at the University of Southern California.  In 2005 he was the Robertson Fellow at the University of Glasgow.  In 2008 he received the Tenth Annual Award for apocalypseExcellence in the Arts from the Newington-Cropsey Foundation.

In 2013 he received the First Annual Award for Excellence in Art Criticism from the Gabarron Foundation.  He has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, Fulbright Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Guggenheim Foundation, and Asian Cultural Council, among other organizations.

Donald Kuspit is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History and Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and has been the A. D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University (1991-97).  He is also Senior Critic at the New York Academy of Art.  He has doctorates in philosophy (University of Frankfurt) and art history (University of Michigan), as well as degrees from Columbia University, Yale University, and Pennsylvania State University.  He has also completed the course of study at the Psychoanalytic Institute of the New York University Medical Center.
onthegatheringemptinessHe has written numerous articles, exhibition reviews, catalogue essays, lectured at many universities and art schools, curated many exhibitions, and edited several series for UMI Research Press and the Cambridge University Press.  He was the editorial advisor for European Art 1900-50 and art criticism for the Encyclopedia Britannica (16th edition), and wrote the entry on art criticism for it.  Among his books are The Critic Is Artist:  The Intentionality of Art (Ann Arbor:  UMI Research Press, 1984); The Cult of the Avant-Garde Artist (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 1993; in German, Klagenfurt:  Ritter Verlag, 1995); The Dialectic of Decadence (New York:  Stux Press, 1993; reissued, New York:  Allworth Press, 2000); The New Subjectivism:  Art in the 1980s (Ann Arbor:  UMI Research Press, 1988; reissued, New York:  Da Capo thegodsandotherbeingsPress, 1993); Signs of Psyche in Modern and Post-Modern Art (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 1994; in Spanish, Madrid:  Akal, 2002); Idiosyncratic Identities:  Artists at the End of the Avant-Garde (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 1996); The Rebirth of Painting in the Late Twentieth Century (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2000); Psychostrategies of Avant-Garde Art (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2000); Redeeming Art:  Critical Reveries (New York:  Allworth Press, 2000); The End of Art (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2004; in Chinese, University of Pejing Press; in Korean, University of Seoul Press; in Polish, Gdansk Museum of Art; in Spanish, Akal; in Turkish, Istanbul:  Metis); A Critical History of Twentieth Century Art (New York:  Artnet, 2006, ebook; in Serbian, Belgrade:  Art Press, 2011); Psychodrama:  Modern Art as Group Therapy (London:  Ziggurat Press, 2010).  He has written monographs on individual artists, serves as a contributing editor for several art magazines, and published several books of poetry.

Catherine Gfeller

Portrait Catherine Gfeller ZPK,Bern Museumsnight March 2015

Portrait Catherine Gfeller ZPK,Bern Museumsnight March 2015

Catherine Gfeller was born in 1966 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. She currently lives and works in Paris and Southern France after having lived in New York from 1995 to 1999. After her Master in Fine Arts in 1991 at the Universities of Neuchâtel and Lausanne, she devotes herself to photography. She travels to many different continents (Europe, South Africa, Asia, South America, North America) to create large landscape triptychs (“A Matter of Landscape”). In 1995, she receives a grant for a one-year residency in New York. There, she develops a printing technique which combines paper, monoprint and photography on the theme of urban landscape (“Urban Friezes”).

In 1999 she is invited for a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and receives the Photography Award from the HSBC Foundation. Paris inspires a new work (“Multi-Compositions”), focused on metaphorical urban subjects using various media: video, sound and the written word. Intimate spaces and daily gestures create new multi-layered compositions where urban rhythms still resonate as an acting presence (“The Insiders”, “Chimeras”, “Domestic Pieces”, “Waders”).

In 2010-2012 her monographic exhibition “Pulsations” is hosted by Museum of Fine Arts La Chaux-de-Fonds, Museum of Fine Arts KKL Luzern and Center of contemporary Arts Sète.

In 2013 she directed the movie “Words of Artists/Portraits of Artists” (87 Min.), a film on 12 Swiss contemporary artists, produced by Richard Dindo and Swiss Television RTS Zürich.

In 2014 WAM Museum in Johannesburg has shown her work (video, photography, sentences installation)  after the residency she made in 2013 at Wits School of the Arts, Johannesburg.

During all year 2015, the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern (architect: Renzo Piano) invites Catherine Gfeller to accomplish a dozen of artistic projects combining installation, performance, photography, video, poetry, soundwalk and other surprises.

Catherine Gfeller is represented by galleries in Paris, Basel, Geneva, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles and has exhibited extensively in Switzerland, France, Italy, England, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Argentina, Chile, Canada and the United States. Her work belongs to private and public collections in Switzerland, France, England, Italy, Germany, Japan, Belgium and the United States. She regularly takes part in art fairs, such as ArtBasel, Kunst Zurich, Armory Show, la Fiac, Ljubjana Biennale and Art Bruxelles.

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Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland

Post-it Festival Catherine Gfeller 2015 ZPK,Bern

Post-it Festival Catherine Gfeller 2015 ZPK,Bern

Bill Berkson

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Bill Berkson, photo by by Nathaniel Dorsky, 2014

Bill Berkson was born in New York in 1939. His first book Saturday Night: Poems 1960-61 appeared in 1961. During the 1960s, he worked at ARTNews, the Museum of Modern Art, and as associate producer of a show on art for public television.

He moved to Northern California in 1970 and during the next decade edited a series of little magazines and books under the Big Sky imprint.

Layout 1He has taught at the New School for Social Research, Yale, in many Poets in the Schools programs, and for 24 years at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he is now Professor Emeritus.

He is a corresponding editor for Art in America and has contributed essays to such other journals as Aperture, Artforum, artcritical.com and Modern Painters.

His recent books include Portrait anPortrait 978-156689-229-2d Dream: New & Selected Poems; three collections of criticism, The Sweet Singer of Modernism & Other Art Writings, For the Ordinary Artist, and Sudden Address: Selected Lectures; an
epistolary collaboration with Bernadette Mayer entitled What’s Your Idea of a Good Time?; and four words-and-images sequences: BILL with Colter Jacobsen; Ted Berrigan with George Schneeman; Not an Exit with Léonie Guyer; and Repeat After Me with John Zurier. A new collection of his poetry, Expect Delays, appeared from Coffee House Press in Fall 2014. His 2006 Russian notebook, Invisible Oligarchs, will appear from Ugly Duckling Presse in spring 2016.

The interview discussed the archive of readings at Penn Sound, and Hyperallergic published a recent piece on Bill that can be read here.

Christopher Stackhouse

CS at Gramsci monument Reading and discussionChristopher Stackhouse is a writer, artist, curator and teacher. He holds an MFA in Writing/Interdisciplinary Studies from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College. His books include Seismosis (1913 press), which features his drawings with text by writer/translator John Keene; and a volume of poems, Plural (Counterpath press.) His writing and interviews have been published in numerous journals and periodicals including Der Pfeil (Hamburg, DE), American Poet- The Journal of The Academy of American Poets, Modern Painters, Art in America,  BOMB Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail. His recent contributions to artist monographs include Kara Walker’s Dust Jackets for The Niggerati (Gregory R. Miller & Co.); and, Basquiat – The Unknown Notebooks (Skira Rizzoli) a book that accompanies the traveling exhibition of text based works by the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, which opened at The Brooklyn Museum spring 2015. He frequently lectures on art, literature, and American culture. He has taught and lectured at the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, Bethel University; at Naropa University; at Ohio State University; Azusa Pacific University; and at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Read more –> try some of his critical writing here, and in the interview, notebooks of Jean Michel Basquiat were discussed, read more about that here. Also an article from Bomb Magazine, and his publisher’s page with links to reviews of his book Plural can be found here.

CS Reading from Plural

Meena Alexander

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photo by Marion Ettlinger

Meena Alexander was born in Allahabad. Her father was posted by the Indian Government to Sudan, after the Bandung Agreement. She spent her early years both in Khartoum and in her ancestral home in Kerala, south India. Her poems first saw the light of day in Arabic translation, when she was a teenager in Khartoum.

Her works include Birthplace with Buried Stones (TriQuarterly Books/ Northwestern University Press, 2013) her seventh book of poetry, Quickly Changing River, Illiterate Heart, (winner of the PEN Open Book Award) and Raw Silk. She has edited Indian Love Poems and published a critically acclaimed memoir Fault Lines(picked as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the year). Atmospheric Embroidery has just been published by Hachette India, 2015. Her poems have been set to music, including “Impossible Grace,” the lyric base of the First Al Quds Music Award and “Acqua Alta, ” which was set to music by the Swedish composer Jan Sandstrom for the Serikon Music Group’s climate change project and performed by the Swedish Radio Choir.

BirthplaceHer essays on trauma, migration and memory, including The Shock of Arrival and Poetics of Dislocation are important for the evolving understanding of postcoloniality. She has also published two academic studies of early English Romanticism. Her novel Nampally Road recently reissued by Orient Blackswan has a haunting resonance with tragic events in Delhi in 2012. When it first appeared in 1991 the novel was a Voice Literary Supplement Editor’s Choice.

Her awards include those from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation for a residency at Bellagio, Arts Council of England and the American Council of Learned Societies. She has received the PEN Open Book Award, the Glenna Lusche51OLOqgDzTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_si Award from Prairie Schooner and the Martha Walsh Pulver Fellowship for a poet from Yaddo. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award in Literature from the South Asian Literary Association. Passage to Manhattan: Critical Essays on Meena Alexander (eds Basu and Leenerts) appeared in 2009. Alexander has served as an Elector, American Poets Corner, Cathedral of St. John the Divine. She is Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center and Hunter College, City University of New York.

Learn more through the following links, Journeys. Poetry Foundation interview, Poet in the Public Sphere, Social Text interview, Yale Political Union address: What Use is Poetry?, Indian Ocean Flows: Black Renaissance interview, `Impossible Grace’: Poem and Music,  and`Acqua Alta’ music sung by Swedish Radio Choir.

Steve Katz

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Steve Katz with son Avrum.

Steve Katz (born May 1935) is an American writer. He is considered an early post-modern or avant-garde writer for works such as The Exagggerations of Peter Prince (1968), and Saw (1972). His collection of stories, Creamy & Delicious (1970), was mentioned in Larry McCaffery’s list of the 100 greatest books of the 20th century where it was named “The most extreme and perfectly executed fictional work to emerge from the Pop Art scene of the late 60s.”

He has written over 20 books of prose and poetry to date, and he has also raised three boys.

Steve Katz was born in the Bronx, New York City in May 1935. He received his Bachelors degree at Cornell University and his Masters degree at the University of Oregon. He has taught at the University of Maryland Overseas (Italy), Cornell University, the University of Iowa, Brooklyn College, Queens College, City University of New York, and Notre Dame University.

In 1978 he became the director of the creative writing program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Katz has also worked as a miner, a dairy farmer, and a teacher of T’ai chi ch’uan. He received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1976 and 1981.

To see more of his books on amazon, click here.

Ann Lauterbach

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Ann Lauterbach  is an American poet, essayist, and professor. Her most recent book is Under the Sign,  and her poetry collection, Or to Begin Again (Penguin Books, 2009), was a 2009 National Book Award finalist. Her other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur Foundation, and the New York State Foundation for the Arts. Her poems have been published in literary journals and magazines including Conjunctions, and in anthologies including American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (W.W. Norton, 2009) and American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (Wesleyan University Press, 2002).

Learn more about recent books of hers by clicking here to browse or purchase them.

Raphael Rubinstein

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Raphael Rubinstein is a New York-based poet and art critic whose numerous books include Polychrome Profusion: Selected Art Criticism 1990-2002 (Hard Press Editions) and The Afterglow of Minor Pop Masterpieces (Make Now). He edited the anthologyCritical Mess: Art Critics on the State of their Practice (Hard Press Editions).  From 1997 to 2007 he was a senior editor at Art in America, where he continues to be a contributing editor. Since 2007 he has been Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art. His most recent curatorial project is “Reinventing Abstraction: New York Painting in the 1980s” at Cheim and Read Gallery.

His blog The Silo,can be read here-  http://thesilo.raphaelrubinstein.com/

Tehching Hsieh

by Brainard Carey and Delia Bajo (from the Brooklyn Rail print archive)

First One Year Performance,1978-79 (Cage Piece) courtesy of the artist.

Tehching Hsieh is a pioneer of Performance Art.

He has been called a “master” by Marina Abramovic and appears in almost every book written on the subject. He did six extraordinary one-year performances. In 1978 he did his first one-year performance; he built a cage in a loft in Tribeca that looked very much like a jail cell. He lived in there for one year, he never came out, he never read, he didn’t write, he didn’t watch TV, he didn’t talk. His meals were delivered to him daily and his excrement taken out in a bucket. His next one-year piece was to punch a card in a time clock, every hour on the hour 24 hours a day for one year. He made a 16-millimeter film of this by releasing one frame every time he punched the clock. The result is to see a year passing in six minutes. His next one-year piece was to spend a year outside in New York City without ever going into a building. His fourth one-year piece was to be tied by a length of rope to fellow artist Linda Montano for one year. His fifth performance was to not make art, or look at art for one year. His last performance was to make art privately for 13 years and then release the results to the public. When he released those results it was a statement saying, “I kept myself alive” and nothing else save the questions the audience asked.

We talked with him in our home in Chelsea.

Brainard Carey (Rail): Let’s talk about your first one-year performance when you built a cage that you lived in without reading writing or talking. Did you have many visitors, that is, an audience?

Tehching Hsieh: I only let people come in 18 times, not 365 days. It was scheduled. People found out through posters, talking to neighbors. My friend put posters in the street.

Delia Bajo (Rail): Why one year?

Hsieh: Because one year is the largest single unit of how we count time. It takes the earth a year to move around the sun. Three years, four years is something else. It is about being human, how we explain time, how we measure our existence. A century is another mark, which is how the last piece was created.

Rail: How did you afford to do the first piece?

Hsieh: I had 5000 square feet in Tribeca, I rented to several people and I made a total of 150 dollars a month profit and that was enough to sustain the project.

Rail: Was there any interaction between you and the people who came in, did they say anything to you?

Hsieh: They did not say anything, talking was not allowed.

Rail: How did you feel when you came out of the cage and went out to the street?

Hsieh: I had prepared my mind, but my body was weak. I felt as though there were wolves all around me. I could feel the sense of survival, an aggression in everyone. Sometimes I find I have no answers to questions about that experience.

Also, there was a lot of things being said about me at that time that were hurtful. In Taiwan, there was a lot of bad news and reports about me continuously. They said this is not about art, it is about my mental problem and that this work puts Chinese people down. Someone sent an anonymous letter that said my next piece should be to burn my face and they clipped out an article with my picture and burned my face. Someone wrote me a letter from the U.N. that was printed in the Wall Street Journal that said we don’t need your kind of work here, it is destructive, we don’t welcome you here. That was after the paper wrote an article on me. These kinds of things were upsetting.

During this first piece I thought a lot about how my work could be developed.

Rail: Was the first piece the most difficult?

Hsieh: Yes, I would say that. It took the most mental energy.

Rail: When you first arrived in New York you “jumped ship,” what exactly happened?

Hsieh: I was in the equivalent of the merchant marines and immigration wouldn’t let me in so I walked off the ship and stayed here.

Rail: That is similar to defecting, no?

Hsieh: Yes. I walked on to the pier and then escaped. I was coming from Taiwan, and at that time I couldn’t leave the country, it was the only way out, though a high price to pay.

I wanted to come to New York because it was the worlds art center, and I wanted to be a good artist!

Rail: What were your first impressions?

Hsieh: I jumped ship in Philadelphia, and paid a driver $150 to drive me to New York. As we approached New York, I saw the skyline which was incredible, the size of it. Then the speed the driver of the taxi drove was very scary. I was scared of the process of moving so fast, not being able to touch the ground.

Rail: Did you have a mentor or teacher in Taiwan?

Hsieh: I didn’t really have one teacher. If I asked a teacher about going to New York, they would say don’t go. When I didn’t want to paint anymore, they didn’t understand. I think there were many teachers and philosophers that I learned from. But before I left, I knew I wanted to be a serious artist. One of the last pieces, the first action I did there was to jump out of a very high two story window, and I documented it. That was 1973. It wasn’t very good work, but it was a start. I made a huge photographic print from it. In Taiwan we had no information at all about conceptual art and other forms.

Rail: So you never heard of Yves Klein?

Hsieh: No, even after the one-year performance, I hadn’t heard of Yves Klein.

Rail: In the second one-year piece, you punched a time clock every hour on the hour for a whole year. Was it difficult to re-enter the world after that piece?

Hsieh: Not really, I just began sleeping through the night.

Rail: Next came your performance with the artist Linda Montano where you were tied together with a length of rope for a year. Do you still speak with her?

Hsieh: Yes, but not so much, because we have had difficulty dividing that piece up.

Rail: What do you mean?

Hsieh: She took that piece and made it hers. Most people think that was her piece. The picture she always uses I don’t like either. She is in the foreground and I am in the background. Sometimes my name isn’t even included when documentation of the work is shown. So I am a little angry, because actually it was my idea and we decided to do it together and share the work 50/50, but now it is like she has eighty and I have twenty. She says it is the critics that make it that way. I tell her, “You know what is going on.” But she doesn’t agree and there it is.

Third One Year Performance, 1982-1983 (Outdoor Piece) courtesy of the artist.

Rail: Then you did the performance where you spent an entire year outdoors in New York City. After that you did your last one-year performance which was to spend a year not making or looking at any art.

Hsieh: Yes, to not make art, which is what I am doing now, being here with you. We say, what is art, what isn’t art, but for me this isn’t art. I don’t make art anymore. Also of course this is an action and life is made up of actions.

There’s a philosophical saying: I’m 50 years old now. I am experienced enough to know the past and probably to know the future. I don’t have much left, but I can still help or do something to make things better. It is just not through art.

Rail: But you say an action can be not doing art, so are you currently, “not doing” as an art action?

Hsieh: No, no. I am not—not doing anymore. I am doing actions, but it is not art. I have six pieces I did, those are about art.

Rail: Yet the fifth piece where you did not make art is similar to what you are doing now, isn’t it?

Hsieh: That was a piece of art. This is not. Action is not necessarily art. But I don’t really care about what is art and what is not. I want to know if something is interesting and that doesn’t have to be art. If there is an interesting message, let’s talk about it. Otherwise I am not interested.

I say I have done six pieces, not more. I continue to say this. But I am now not doing, and I am not an artist now. Some times people say, “Oh, the kind of work you are doing now is art,” but it is not. If you want to call it art, it has nothing to do with me. You try to do something that is not art, but has a good art quality. That is meaningful to me. Not making a form like art, but pursuing a quality. If I am painting a house, people say I am painting or I am doing a performance. But it is not. I am doing what I have to do in life.

I have a building in Williamsburg and I let artists live there for free from 1994 until now. There are different artists in there every year. They have a 1000 square feet to work in. I don’t call that art; it is just a visiting artists project.

Rail: You bought buildings there?

Hsieh: I bought a building, renovated it, and built another building that was entirely new.

Rail: You financed it yourself?

Hsieh: Yes. You see, before I came to the U.S. I was a painter and I did many paintings until 1973. In 1994, they were all sold at an auction and I made about $500,000.

I have four floors. One floor I rent to cover expenses. The rest I give to visiting artists. This year, one is a Mongolian filmmaker and another is a Ukrainian folk singer.

Rail: How do you find the artists?

Hsieh: I have a person who helps me select the artists. And that person gets one floor, and the other two floors are given to two artists a year. But again, that is not art to me, because to me any person can do that kind of “art.” Rich people for example can do it without any problem. So, that is the kind of action I do, the life I create.

Rail: When you first came to New York, was there some person or event that inspired you?

Hsieh: When I came to New York I didn’t know any performance artists before I began, or even about the term performance art. Someone came to me and said they wanted to write an article about be in High Performance magazine. I though to myself, “High Performance, what is that?” It sounded like something to do with cars to me, and I was wondering why a car magazine was interested to talk with me! After that I understood more.

I am still isolated in my way. Here and there performance artists or editors will come by and say hello, but I don’t know much about the outside and I am still the same.

Rail: You have family in Taiwan?

Hsieh: My mother and brother lived in Taiwan and they both supported me. When I asked for money they could sometimes send it. Even now I ask for money, but they are tired of me.

Rail: Many of the pieces are about being alone.

Hsieh: Yes, it is part of my nature, but I also enjoy talking, that is also part of my nature.

Rail: We both relate to your work. As you know, our work is sometimes not even seen as art. Because we work with people coming off the street, it is not important that we present ourselves as artists.

Hsieh: That’s why I like the work you do. It feels good to me more than other forms of work I have seen. It is something fresh. I am not saying how your work is formed and how the structure of art should be. You are doing something new and are experimenting, similar to drawing, you make possibilities, the technique, meaning the concept, is important, it works. The quality of what you do is no different than mine.

Your actual work however is very different, it is closer to life in some way. I like that it doesn’t involve a stage. I like that it is a less formal tradition.

Rail: We are interviewing an artist who no longer makes art.

Hsieh: I no longer call myself an artist, but I cannot change the way you see me. If you want to call me an artist, O.K. I can talk about art because I have done it. I may be more clear about things than I was before. I don’t make art and I am letting go of assumptions and definitions. You have to be creative, you can do anything. I am not becoming narrow, it is about opening up possibilities.

After I did the piece where I did not do art for one year, I cannot go back and do a piece again.

Rail: You mean the art of not doing art, or that project again or what came before?

Hsieh: OK, everything I do is in a progression, an evolution. If I do one year without making art, what is the next step in the progression? If I go back to do another one-year performance like the earlier pieces, it doesn’t make sense. Do you understand? The next logical step was to just survive into the next century, the new millennium.

Rail: So all the performances built up clearly.

Hsieh: Yes, to do another work of art I have to go somewhere else in the universe which is why I said after the 13-year piece I just survived, on earth, the next step is out of this world because I have done what I can do here. On another planet I could do something. Our time is very short here. When we speak of historical figures we say they were born this year, died that year. Or, we say, they are still alive. That’s all we talk about really. It’s just like the dinosaurs, all we can talk about is when they lived and died.

So for me, I use similar language. I can only say that I have kept myself alive. More details are unnecessary, survival is all. What I have done in those years remains in my mind.

So you understand now, if I want to do art again, I cannot. I can enjoy life and do what I like, but not art.

Rail: And collaborations?

Hsieh: I avoid that because I do not want to lose control of my situation. An interview like this is different, I feel comfortable with you two. But another example is if I let you wash my feet for your performance, I would only let you do it if you didn’t document it in any way, which includes writing about it.

Rail: What do you look at now, or read?

Hsieh: I only have time to take breaks here and there, enjoy tea. I daydream. But to be honest, I don’t read very much. I am working on my building still. I have been traveling because I lecture on this work and my D.V.D.

I am thinking about starting some kind of foundation in Taiwan.

Rail: Ironically, now that you no longer make art you are being asked to lecture. You have made limited editions of your posters for sale, and a D.V.D. of all your work.

Hsieh: Sometimes I say I am a salesman now, working on my retirement fund.

Rail: Just when you let go of everything, you are in demand around the world. It is extraordinary in a way. Your career is over and you can still enjoy the fruits of it.

Hsieh: Yes, but what I tell you of the demand is limited. I have sold very few editions. My phone rarely rings and soon this too will be over.

When I go to China I give away all the D.V.D.’s because no one can afford them. Actually I sold one when I was there.

Rail: After looking at all the pieces, I felt a sense of sadness or loneliness and the difficulty of survival.

Hsieh: I would say that is part of it. We don’t look at survival that closely. We pretend to smile. We are all taught to say everything is O.K., we are in control, even if we are not. There is a need to be positive in public. But art is not doing that. We try to tell the truth in someway, to touch a part of it, to not be so typical. This kind of work is not about suffering, it is about existence. It is about a technique, my concept is to show this technique.

I think technique is the most important thing.

Also, my work is different than say Marina Abramovic and Ulays work. They did work based on endurance, another version of how they see time, how long can their bodies stand something. Their work is still about their idea of time. My idea is that time becomes the main thing, how I pass the time is my main concern. It doesn’t matter what I do, I pass time.