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"TASK"Oliver Herring

September 26, 2014

At Madison Square Park in New York City, Oliver Herring organized his largest TASK Party to date. TASK parties encourage people to take creative risks and to break down social barriers through a simple, “self-perpetuating” cycle: Each participant writes down a task and places it into a box and, in exchange, retrieves a task from the box. Participants work together to realize their tasks through provided materials such as paint, paper, tape, plastic wrap, and foil.

“These tasks can be interpreted however you want,” says Herring. “The tools are your imagination and your imagination is limitless.” Since 2002, Herring has organized TASK events around the world, at military bases, museums, churches, schools, and other venues.

More information and credits


Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interviewer: Ian Forster. Camera: Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Sound: Amanda Long & Ava Wiland. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Oliver Herring. Special Thanks: N Wayne Bailey, Peter Krashes & Madison Square Park Conservancy. Theme Music: Peter Foley.

Art21 Exclusive is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; 21c Museum Hotel, and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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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.

“The way people interact with each other socially tends to be very prescribed. And with TASK, you use this little directive and you go over to that person and you engage that person. And he or she is not going to question that, because that’s very much part of the structure.”

Oliver Herring

Community Engagement

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Thomas Hirschhorn

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Collaborating with Strangers

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

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Oliver Herring