Each performer started with a task. Once complete, they wrote a new task for the box, then picked another one. On the side there was a volunteer typing all the tasks in. My shift ended early so I got to spend the day watching events unfold.
There were representatives of all ages, sizes, abilities, and many were related in some way to the Hirshhorn, but not to each other. Some of the performers in Task were really quite fascinating. I found myself following them around the perimeter of the stage to see what they were up to next.
One of the most interesting performers was a lady in a wheelchair who in her introduction told us she wrote in her application "...you must have someone old and you must have someone disabled, so you must pick me..." One of her tasks was to write five of the best moments in her life. Through all the distractions on stage, she only made it through three: "The birth of my daughter, my divorce, getting fired."
A house was built in about 20 minutes. Then there was a dance party, in the house. Then another task was to destroy the house, so the dance partyers ended up being the destroyers. Later in the day the task was to rebuild the house. The new house took longer to build and was way fancier than the first. My favorite detail was the writing on the wall.
One of the most interesting parts was when one performer took apart a section of the "stage" and two others followed behind her trying to salvage what she had ripped up as if trying to save it all. Their task must have been to tape something up, because soon after they proceeded to tape up a group on stage. What I found interesting is that people followed along, and everyone seemed to play nice. Why did everyone follow the rules? Why didn't anyone rebel and refuse to play along? As this performer was ripping the stage apart, she didn't seem so happy about it. Every time someone approached and looked at her, she shrugged her shoulders and said quietly "this was my task."
The performers were very aware that they were being watched, and were always aware the cameras. There were tons of cameras. Really, they were just playing. Or, they were forced to play. Performance art? I'm not really comfortable with calling it art. It seemed more like an all-day team building exercise. There was a bit of audience interaction. Yes, I was a member of the Read Army, and I marched around the stage with the group yelling "Reading is Awesome." I had a lot of fun. It was like being at a family picnic, where you felt relieved to know that your family was not as weird as the ones "over there."
All in all, I'm glad I wasn't on stage. It was fun to work behind the scenes, then watch the tasks unfold. What I liked most about the event is what I took away from it - I met a lot of interesting people, some I hope to see again. After Task, I headed over to an artdc.org event where I made some more friends. On the way home I discovered my whole day was spent interacting with new people, and that in itself is quite exciting!
:: "Task" at Hirshhorn