Oliver Herring has captivated audiences with performances, knitted objects, and lyrical, movement-based videos. Under Herring’s hand these profoundly disparate media are intertwined and constantly tested. They become contemplative, sensual, and pregnant with issues of time and human intimacy.
The elegance of Herring’s sculptures, hand-knitted with strands of silver mylar or treated wood, is due to their laborious process and their soulful forms. After weaving a number of solitary objects that reference time and mortality (a queen-size bed, an open coat, an empty chair), Herring worked from video stills to imbue stationary objects with a sense of actual motion. Double Rocker (1999), a life-size rocking chair and body knit out of mylar, shows successive motions of rocking at once—the chair has two backs, and the person that has propelled it is physically shown twice. In the piece a static medium carries the expressive weight of a performance.
In 1999, breaking from the solitary act of knitting, Herring delved further into interactivity with video. Herring loosely choreographs people into synchronized actions that are filmed in stop-motion. The results are minutes-long, looped works that transform humans, movements, and props into compelling sequences. Increasingly he plays with the unpredictable. In the series Basic (2003) he took out ads inviting anyone interested to come work with him in his studio. The videos produced from the improvised sessions feature strangers thrown together into unrehearsed dance-like movements that are paired with music.
Oliver Herring was born in Germany. He received an MFA from Hunter College, New York, NY in 1991 and has lived there since. Solo exhibitions include Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, FL (2002); the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, OH (2001); the Camden Art Center, London, England (1997); the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (1996); and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY (1993). His work will be included in a forthcoming group show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY (2004).