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Searching for a release from his past meditative work of knitting colorless sculptures with Mylar tape, Oliver Herring began making fantastical stop-motion videos of himself, and subsequently of strangers encountered by chance. In addition to videos, Herring creates sculptures of “off-the-street” strangers, using Styrofoam covered with photographs that reproduce the skin of the model.

He also photographs strangers’ faces after they’ve spent hours spitting colorful food dye over their faces. The portraits are intense documents of an unusual kind of intimacy. “I usually wait for a moment that brings out some kind of vulnerability,” he says. “That’s what I’m after. This personal connection with a stranger.”

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Oliver Herring

Oliver Herring’s early works were woven sculptures and performance pieces in which he knitted Mylar, a transparent and reflective material, into human figures, clothing, and furniture. Since 1998, Herring has created stop-motion videos and participatory performances with “off the street” strangers. He makes sets for his videos and performances with minimal means and materials, recycling elements from one artwork to the next. Open-ended and impromptu, Herring’s videos have a dreamlike stream-of-consciousness quality; each progresses towards a finale that is unexpected or unpredictable. Embracing chance and chance encounters, his videos and performances liberate participants to explore aspects of their personalities through art in a way that would otherwise probably be impossible.

“I usually wait for a moment that brings out some kind of vulnerability. That’s what I’m after. This personal connection with a stranger.”

Oliver Herring

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Oliver Herring

6:34
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Oliver Herring

1:55
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Oliver Herring

Artist Oliver Herring discusses what it’s like to invite strangers in as participants in his video and photographic work.

12:29
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12:49
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12:06
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