During the exhibition the gallery is closed, no. 3 Cybernation


    On this day, we were scheduled to open Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit, the artist’s first institutional survey in New York. Organized by SculptureCenter, the exhibition remains in the closed galleries of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where it debuted in January. In this month’s Artforum, artist Matthew Ronay and art historian Lane Relyea recount their experiences looking at and learning about Hsu’s work. While we wait for the exhibition to materialize in New York, we offer art historian Jeannine Tang’s essay for the exhibition’s catalog and a selection of archival materials pulled from earlier decades that help to flesh out a context for Hsu’s work then and now. In many ways, Hsu’s work from the 1980s (the majority of the exhibition) distilled the violent flux of technological change that we now recognize and feel acutely in our work and personal lives. “This is the suffering, untheoretical part of Hsu’s art,” Ronay writes. “A body falls apart, only to cybernate later.” What is it about the time between then and now that brings the latencies of Hsu’s work to the fore again?

    Hsu, referencing Elaine Scarry, once remarked that while the critical theory of the 1980s grilled the subject and saw its autonomy emptied out, pain remained the nagging anchor that kept it from dissipating into thin air. In other words, it was pain that kept the genie in the bottle of embodiment. Feminist, queer, post-colonial theories of situatedness responded to the abstract universal of the dead subject, and resurrected it as a zombie that haunts the nimbus of the myth of infinite excavation. Similarly, the current suffering inflicted on the social body reveals the fallacy of the idea that living, working bodies are absolutely negated in the vapor of financial extraction. The zombied subject is a cyborg, as Hsu declares, and his art imagines a world within which the new subject emerges, wounded, staggering, shapeshifting, and resisting containment within prescribed forms of personhood.

    Exhibition Publication

    The full Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit catalog, with an essay by Jeannine Tang, an interview between curator Sohrab Mohebbi and Tishan Hsu, and a text by Brian Kuan Wood, is available for purchase on our website. (Orders will be shipped once our staff returns to our offices.)

    Below, we are offering an excerpt from the book: Tang’s incisive and rigorous analysis of the span of Hsu’s practice and interests from the 1980s on.

    “Simulation and Security” by Jeannine Tang
    Selected from Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit
    SculptureCenter, 2020

    Related Materials: Archival Tishan Hsu

    A catalog for Tishan Hsu’s 1986 exhibition New Geometries, Conscious Objects and OTHER Matter at Pat Hearn Gallery, New York.

    "Talking Abstract: Part Two," a 1987 roundtable on abstraction with Tishan Hsu, Sherrie Levine, Peter Halley and others, interviewed and edited by Lilly Wei for Art in America. “I find the context in which we live our lives is often bizarre or absurd,” Hsu writes. “A murder takes place in a white shoebox apartment; a birth takes place under fluorscent lights in a sterilized gray room, or a friend is dying under those same fluorescent lights in a gray cubicle while I drive along at 60 miles an hour in a shaped metal container.”

    David Joselit on Tishan Hsu, Robert Gober, Jeff Koons, Louise Lawler, and others: “Investigating the Ordinary,” 1988.

    “It is as though [Hsu] has slowed down the abstract electronic speed with which new machines can function to dissect and make as transparently clear as possible its expressive dimension — the startling new sense of possibility it affords,” writes Donald Kuspit in a catalog for a 1988 exhibition at Taxispalais Kunsthalle Tirol.

    Tishan Hsu’s artist insert from The Silent Baroque at Villa Arenberg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Salzburg, 1989.

    The catalog for Richard Armstrong’s group exhibition Mind Over Matter: Concept and Object, held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1990. In an interview, Hsu says, “I have always wanted to touch, taste, or feel the work I like the most. For me, the most convincing work often arouses the senses. In my work, I feel there is an organic quality regardless of how technological it appears. I think the tactility is a by-product of this organic quality.” (Or rent a film about the exhibition here.)

    Thank you to Micayla Bransfield, who compiled the bibliography for the catalog for Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit.

    Links: From the web

    Wayne Koestenbaum’s Lounge Act, live at REDCAT in Los Angeles (2015)

    Helke Bayrle’s Portikus Under Construction (h/t Fiona Connor)

    Devin KKenny’s new single “Cloudemoji xx

    Tune In

    Montez Press Radio

    Holt/Smithson Foundation Friday Films (scroll down to Announcements)

    For the Sim who has everything: Tour Connor Creagan’s Sims Hugh Newell Jacobsen Buckwalter Residence. (More Sims Architecture Tours coming on Connor’s Instagram.)

    Kraftwerk, Music Non-Stop (1986)


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