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Oliver Herring, Areas for Action

511 West 22nd Street, 212 633 6999
October 7 - November 6, 2010
Web Site

Meulensteen Gallery is proud to announce Areas for Action, an ambitious exhibition of ongoing performances, improvisatory sculptures, and real-time collaborative artworks by Oliver Herring. This marks the first time that Herring will devote an entire gallery exhibition to the performative aspect of his practice. Events will take place over the entire run of the show during normal gallery hours. Visitors are asked to consult the exhibition schedule online at for a complete list of performances and events, all of which are open to the public.

Areas for Action draws its title from Herring’s organization of the gallery space, which will be divided into delimited areas for each of the specific interventions and actions. Each day a new group of volunteer participants (over 50 different individuals over the run of the show) will join Herring in one of these areas to realize a wide range of works. Apart from––or often in conjunction with––whatever physical manifestations remain at the end of the day, these works will be recorded in photographs and video, which the artist will print, edit, and install in time for the next day’s action. In this way, over the course of the exhibition the actions will begin to cross-pollinate each other and create physical and thematic correspondences.

Herring’s TASK events and parties, conducted over the last decade on three continents with local participants, in settings as varied as major museums, municipal libraries, and public schools, are the most direct antecedent for Areas for Action. However, the events planned for the show combine techniques and strategies developed over the course of Herring’s career, including knitting, stop-motion video, photographic sculpture, and choreography. Accordingly, the visual texture of each performance and the objects that result from it will vary widely: nude models gradually covered by photographs of their own bodies, performers covered in glitter, walls covered in spit food dye, elaborate costumes made in collaboration with a group of teenagers, and a dark room designed specifically as a set for performers covered in phosphorescent paint are a few of the situations that viewers might encounter when they enter the gallery.

As the exhibition proceeds, layers of documentation and traces of past performances will add up and combine to create what in a sense will be a total immersive artwork. The gallery space will be gradually transformed into an environment marked by intense visual activity, color and materiality. Further, in an effort to harness the fluid and democratic nature of his practice to a new extreme, Herring has designated specific areas of the exhibition space as open for constant audience participation. Materials will be provided on a constant basis so that visitors can create their own artworks in dialogue with the other ongoing projects directed by the artist.

Neither wholly object- or performance-based, Herring’s work seeks to remove boundaries between things and the actions people perform to make them; by extension, he also redefines the roles of artist and audience, often becoming an observer of others performing in situations that he designs but can never wholly control. The artmaking process becomes a site of vulnerability and risk-taking, a social experiment, and an open laboratory for innovative modes of representation. Oliver Herring is currently the subject of Dance With Camera, a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, which traveled from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia; and is participating at the Aichi Triennale in Nagoya, Japan. In 2009 the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY featured Me Us Them, a 15-year survey of Herring’s work curated by Ian Berry. Herring also been the subject of one-person exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA; Frye Art Museum, Seattle; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, among many others. His TASK performances and parties have been held at museums, universities, and other spaces all over the world. Recent group exhibitions include The Xth Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art: The Spectacle of Everyday, Lyon, France: Performa 2009, produced by Salon 94, New York; Slash: Paper Under the Knife, the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; and the Luminato Festival for Art and Culture, Toronto. In 2005 Herring was featured on the nationally-broadcast PBS program Art 21.
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