Oliver Herring’s TASK 2, coming to FLUXspace

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Oliver Herring’s FluxTASK last year at FLUXspace. This is a shot from the blue room in the elevator. There was a video camera trained on the room and a live feed to a monitor downstairs where you saw the people merged with a background image previously taken on the streets of the neighborhood. The FLUX crew said the blue room was such a hit, it may be brought back.

I’m totally focused on politics at the moment. As in, how about that Obama!!! But art is still going on in Philadelphia, politics or no politics.

And so it was that Roberta and I headed out to FLUXspace Tuesday for a press preview for Oliver Herring’s FluxTASK 2, coming Saturday, Sept. 6, 5 to 10 p.m. It promises to be even more of an event than Herring’s first TASK event at FLUXspace. (Here’s a post with Roberta’s pictures. Here’s my post on meeting Herring prior to the first event).


Here’s how FLUX describes the upcoming “party”:

What begins as a roomful of people and a bucket of interpretable instructions becomes an entirely self-perpetuating event. There will be music, food, activity, and certainly a healthy dose of uncertainty at this participatory, open-ended party!

One of the tasks someone created during the 2007 TASK at FLUX.
One of the tasks someone created during the 2007 TASK at FLUX.

Herring, an internationally acclaimed artist who shows at Max Protetch Gallery in Chelsea, came to Philly the first time because FLUXers Joseph DiGiuseppe and Chris Golas saw him at an opening in New York and issued an impromptu invitation.


Through that fortuitous fluke, Herring visited Philadelphia to help FLUX build bridges to the Kensington community by playing the role of a sort of Pied Piper with a video cam. Some neighborhood kids bit and they’ve been coming to FLUX ever since. Herring showed the kid vids at his first TASK party, a veritable happening at FLUXspace, attracting nearly 400 participants, many of them the video kids and their families and friends, turning the event into a neighborhood pot luck picnic. The art world also showed up in force. I remember talking to Max Protetch, himself.

At the press preview Tuesday, FLUXer Josh Kerner said: “People from Philly, New York, kids, neighbors, a curator from the Hirshorn were all on the floor building something from popsicle sticks together.”

The embodiment of Oliver Herring


Oliver Herring speaking via video to members of the press. He was recorded from his bed.

For the press preview, FLUX promised us “some form of embodiment” of Herring. (Besides Herring’s embodiment, there were some real people besides Kerner at Tuesday’s press preview–FLUX regular Nike Desis, two FLUX new board members–artist Susanna Gieske and curator Angela Jerardi–plus Funnel Pages maestro Shaun M. Baer, who also created the FluxTASK web pages).

The “embodiment” turned out to be Oliver videotaped lolling on his bed like an odalisque. OK, I exaggerate, but we did see him with his head on his pillow, delivering a video “letter” to the press. He started by thanking us for coming to the “press junket.” lol.

So here’s what the “junket” was–lots of overstuffed sandwiches of cream cheese, nuts, shredded carrots, with or without ham, plus sweet, tiny bunches of tiny grapes. Desert was peaches and cream. We were thinking they’d serve hot dogs and cheese curls, so we were delighted. I’m sorry I didn’t think to take a picture of the food. It all looked so beautiful, even in that gaping, raw space.

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Oliver Herring, FluxTASK 2007, neighborhood children following instructions, using plastic wrap

The TASK party in Philadelphia comes from a related body of performance art work. Herring has been staging TASK events since 2002 in places from London to Paris to Seattle to Washington D.C. (at the Hirshorn Museum). For these performance/events Herring carefully chooses the participants to include a variety of people.

But when Herring came to Philadelphia and FLUX, he decided to try something different, opening participation to anyone who would come. Talking about his first ever Task Party, the one at FLUX, Herring said, “We did not know what would happen. Flux is so way out…” He said it gave him the luxury to not succeed. But the neighborhood kids involved are still coming to FLUX, and that proves what a success the experiment turned out to be!

From a recent video by the neighborhood kids, with ping pong balls (the blurry little white things). The video was made in conjunction with FLUX’s work with Herring.

For TASK 2, Herring has not only shot more video with the neighborhood kids. The kids have also gotten a chance to use the cameras themselves. At the press preview, we saw some samples, and some of it was pretty creative. FLUX’s Nike Desis said the kids immediately understood the medium and took to it like fish to water. You can expect to see video from the kids at TASK 2.

From a recent video by the neighborhood kids; the young man behind the camera is interviewing and videotaping someone else. The video was made in conjunction with FLUX’s work with Herring.

FLUX is planning to continue the engagement with the neighborhood. Next summer they expect to have a more extended video curriculum for the neighborhood children, now that they’ve seen how the kids did with cameras this summer and now that they have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t work.

Desis said Task 2 will be bigger and better, with larger scale building materials (beyond popsicle sticks!!) like foam insulation sheets and cardboard. She said they needed more of that, plus tools, plus anything with mirrors. If you have materials you can donate, contact

Oliver Herring, FluxTASK 2007, showing one of the participants writing on a sort of plastic-wrap wall or blackboard.

By the way, FLUX is on the verge of getting their final seal of approval as a 501c3 non-profit, soon, and recently got their first grant–for TASK 2–from Pennsylvania Council on the Humanities. And and and FLUX also connected with the Fringe (yes, TASK 2 event is part of the Fringe) and with University of the Arts, which is hosting a lecture by Herring Tuesday, Sept. 9, from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m., at the CBS Auditorium in the building with the columns), followed by a light-fare reception from 5:30-6 p.m., and a panel discussion from 6 -7 p.m. led by Tom Zummer and Jennie Shanker.

So I put my money on FLUX succeeding long term.

What’s happening at FLUX is politics of the best kind, the urge to connect with neighbors and exchange with them some culture and some food. I think it’s a perfect storm when art and life and society merge, and right now, that’s what’s happening at FLUX. And Herring himself is intrigued with making that sort of thing happen. I’m totally sick that I’ll be out of town and will miss the party. You really ought to go.

Sat. Sept. 6, 5-10 p.m.
3000 N. Hope Street, Philadelphia, PA 19133

Lecture by Oliver Herring
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 4:30-5:30pm
University of the Arts, CBS Auditorium
Followed by light fare, 5:30-6 p.m.
Panel discussion 6-7 p.m.