Tehching Hsieh was born in 1950 in Nan-Chou, Taiwan. His father was an atheist and his mother a devoted Christian. Hsieh dropped out of high school in 1967 and took up painting. After finishing his army service (1970-1973), Hsieh had his first solo show at the gallery of the American News Bureau in Taiwan. Shortly after this show, he stopped painting. In 1973, Hsieh made a performance action, Jump Piece, in which he broke both of his ankles. He was trained as a sailor, which he then used as a means to enter the United States. In July of 1974, Hsieh arrived at the port of a small town by the Delaware River near Philadelphia. He was an illegal immigrant for fourteen years until he was granted amnesty in the US in 1988.