Elaine Scarry and Jeannine Tang on Tishan Hsu’s 1980s

    Zoom recording

    Tishan Hsu’s work appears prescient and influential for younger artists working today, which we can now understand (at least partially) as a product of his idiosyncratic and forward-reaching relationship to the aesthetics, media, and theory of the 1980s.

    Referencing the work of scholar Elaine Scarry, Tishan Hsu has remarked that while the critical theory of the 1980s interrogated 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. In Hsu’s work, the body in pain, administered through the institutions of modern life (the office, the hospital, the prison, the factory), manifests itself as fragmented, sundered, and wounded.

    In this program, Elaine Scarry speaks on her touchstone volume The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1985) and the resonances it may have with Hsu’s work.

    Following Scarry, art historian Jeannine Tang speaks on Hsu’s work and its context at a high point in his exhibition history in the late 1980s. Tang’s essay “Simulation and Security: Tishan Hsu’s New York and Cologne, 1987-1990” appears in the catalog for Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit as an indispensable analysis of a pivotal moment in the recent history of art and in Hsu’s long career.

    The program concludes with a group discussion moderated by exhibition curator Sohrab Mohebbi.