While reading this weeks articles I was reminded of a piece that is now up at the MOMA – the piece is Performance 1- by Tehching Hsieh. The exhibit is made up of a cage that the artist lived in for a year along with photos taken of him (everyday?) that document the passing of time. The artist lived in this cage in 1978-79 with no personal contact and no media (tv, radio, books) to pass the time. Obviously, the show is about isolation, loss of freedom and boredom. The artist states that what is being put up at the MOMA is not art – his time in the cage, the performance itself, was the art. Nonetheless, he agreed to the show as it was the only way to share in the experience of his art.

This reminded me of Miller’s statement that “immateriality can only be expressed through materiality”p28, and that the two are invariably intertwined. Beyond this initial connection between the readings and art – I am not sure if any (with the possible exception of Pinney) of the pieces took us any farther down the road towards recognizing agency/desire within objects. Instead, there was a strong turn towards practice as both a creation of habitus and as the realm in which anthropologists work. While Miller pushes for us to kill and bury the subject as the center of studies – when you read him carefully his suggestions are actually quite mild (which may partially explain Pinney’s less mild suggestions). Miller, Keane, and Renfrew all seem extremely concerned with the creation of a practical application that will allow a move away from subject-dominated studies, but without the unneeded aggrandizement of the object along the way.

Artist Website –


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