Oliver Herring

Oliver Herring. Art in the Twenty-First Century production still, 2005. Season 3, Episode: Play. © Art21, Inc. 2005.

Oliver Herring and The Present Perfect

Oliver Herring often collaborates with strangers in his work, encouraging performances from non-artists to reveal the unexpected creativity inherent in us all. Herring toured cities and towns across the country this spring to organize his TASK Parties and Workshops, which provide an open-ended and creative platform where unselfconscious playfulness permeates a series of tasks that are generated and executed by any and all participants. Herring will share his experiences with TASK and its impact on participants, as well as his numerous collaborations with everyday people who dance, play, and engage in a variety of unpredictable actions in his videos, photos, and live performances.


Herring will create an unprecedented interactive project for audience members, inspired by his current project Three Day Weekend, which is based on a simple set of choreographic instructions. Herring films untrained performers enacting the movements in front of a live audience, while he makes adjustments, modifications, and elaborations—even capitalizes on participants’ errors to lead into new directions.  With each new location and set of performers, the work evolves differently, resulting in wildly divergent final pieces.

For The Present Perfect with Art21, Oliver invites you to engage with and expand on this project in two exciting ways.

About Oliver Herring

Oliver Herring was born in Heidelberg, Germany in 1964, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received a BFA from the University of Oxford (Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art), Oxford, England, and an MFA from Hunter College, New York. Among Herring’s early works were his woven sculptures and performance pieces in which he knitted Mylar, a transparent and reflective material, into human figures, clothing, and furniture. These ethereal sculptures, which evoke introspection, mortality, and memory, are Herring’s homage to Ethyl Eichelberger, a performance artist who committed suicide in 1990. 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. In a series of large-scale photographs, Herring documents strangers’ faces after hours of spitting colorful food dye, recording a moment of exhaustion and intensity that doubles as a form of abstract painting. Herring’s use of photography takes an extreme turn in his most recent series of photo-sculptures. For these works, Herring painstakingly photographs a model from all possible angles, then cuts and pastes the photographs onto the sculptural form of his subject.


Art in the Twenty-First Century, Season 3, Episode: Play, 2005

Exclusive Episode #051: Oliver Herring: Oliver Herring: Legacy

Exclusive Episode #065: Oliver Herring: Participant Davide Borella

Exclusive Episode #070: Oliver Herring: Participant Joyce Pensato

Exclusive Episode #071: Oliver Herring: Participant Davis Thompson-Moss

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One Response to “Oliver Herring”

  1. […] is thrilled to announce our latest program, The Present Perfect with Art21, featuring Art21 artists Oliver Herring and Laurie Simmons in conversation with Robert MacNeil. It takes place Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at […]