Teaching with Contemporary Art

TASK Unplugged

Image: resourcesystemsconsulting.com

This year, to begin the fourth annual Art21 Educators Institute, we will start our nine days with Oliver Herring and TASK at Luhring Augustine Gallery in Brooklyn. Each of our sixteen teachers, as well as Jessica, Flossie and myself participate in this free-form installation that takes place over hours, all the while using the interaction as our unofficial introduction to one another.

For those of you familiar with TASK, especially those who have had the experience to participate in large TASK events like the recent one at NAEA in New York, the possibilities are huge, the space is often large and the materials available are varied, to say the least. Works of art and performances are documented, and in some cases works of art are taken from the space to live on in other places. But the fact remains that stuff gets thrown away or isn’t recyclable. Sometimes a LOT of stuff gets thrown away.

This time, in a year that has in some ways been about “restraints” inspired by Matthew Barney, we will be running TASK with three materials: pencil, paper and string. Tasks for TASK will have to be interpreted with stripped-down media vs. five kinds of metallic mylar, four thousand colored markers and three boxes of fake jewelry.  Even if the task is, “Start a revolution,” one of Oliver’s favorite examples, it has to be carried out with the simplest stuff we could come up with (full discloure… we included scissors in the mix to facilitate easier access through the afternoon. You hate to see people chewing string in order to make art).

I love TASK, but my awkward moment always comes when we’re cleaning up a lot of plastic and odd supplies that were donated for the events only to be thrown away at the end of the day. This time, I am ESPECIALLY excited about not having that particular concern and eager to see how we interpret the tasks differently with essentially the same few materials.

More to come. Happy 4th to all!

Contributor
Joe Fusaro is the senior education advisor for Art21, and has written Art21’s “Teaching with Contemporary Art” column since 2008. He is an exhibiting artist and visual arts chair for the Nyack Public Schools in New York; and an adjunct instructor for New York University’s Graduate Program in Art and Arts Professions.

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