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Ten minutes with Oliver Herring

12-25 14:18 TimeOut Beijing
I wake up like a zombie. My first moves in the morning are machine-like. I start up the computer, start the coffee maker, enter the password to my computer, add milk to my cup, walk to the bathroom, open emails, the New York Times, Facebook, pour coffee

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As part of a two-month-long residency at Telescope, internationally acclaimed experimental artist Oliver Herring will be soliciting volunteers to participate in a series of daily routines from the prosaic to the absurd, which will form the raw materials for videos, photographs and sculptures that will come to fill the gallery space.

Simon Zhou spoke with the artist to find out what participants can expect.

What’s the idea behind the exhibition?

The exhibition at Telescope is a direct extension of my regular work practice, which is experimental and open-ended. I like to throw myself into situations where I'm a little outside of my comfort zone, for example, making music together with a group of people, or choreographing a ballet, even though I don't know much about either.

The idea is to explore territory I haven't stepped into before and perhaps stumble upon something surprising and new. My material of choice is people. I'm hoping to meet a variety of people here in Beijing and see what can be generated out of the encounters. Some of it will stick, some of it may not.

What can people who volunteer for your project expect to be in store?

Expect creative fun under unusual circumstances. Your personality, physical ability or disability, comfort zones and limitations are inspiring to me. We'll build around them.

My favourite tool kit at the moment is made up of video, photography, and performance, but we may end up doing something entirely different.There are few expectations to what may happen. To a large degree it depends on who walks through the Telescope doors. I'll corral whatever we end up doing into pieces of art and into an exhibition.

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Do you have any daily routines that other people might find unusual?

I wake up like a zombie. My first moves in the morning are machine-like. I start up the computer, start the coffee maker, enter the password to my computer, add milk to my cup, walk to the bathroom, open emails, the New York Times, Facebook, pour coffee into my mug and take the first sip as I begin to read and write.

Despite, or maybe because of, my work practice in which I often court unpredictability and even chaos, I'm actually in many respects the complete opposite – a details man and micromanager. Maybe one needs the other in order to function as a balanced person?

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Oliver Herring’s residency at Telescope will last until January 4. To volunteer as a model, contact telescope.beijing@gmail.com.

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