Leigh Ledare

born 1976, Seattle
lives in New York City

Leigh Ledare’s 2017 feature-length film The Task screened in Transformer Station’s Crane Gallery during the FRONT preview exhibition (Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools) and once during the run of FRONT 2022. Shot by a film crew in a single room over several days, the camera observes real-life Tavistock group therapy participants as they work toward the abstract “task" of articulating the conscious and unconscious relationships between the people in the room. As they negotiate their individual positions and try to name complex gender, class, and racial dynamics, they are guided and sometimes thwarted by a set of professional yet inscrutable therapist-consultants. The film’s climax, in which the artist steps out from behind the camera to confront the workshop participants—raising an uproar about crossed boundaries that ultimately leads to the consultants leaving the room silently—raises questions about the power of art making to intervene in and unexpectedly destabilize social structures.

The Task played a particular role during the early development of the triennial’s concept: Tina Kukielski proposed to Prem Krishnamurthy that they watch the film and discuss. The uncomfortable ending sparked long discussions about how art can create bumpy friction and subsequently served as an early inspiration for the FRONT 2022 curatorial team as it negotiated the complexities of Cleveland’s social dynamics and its own group relations. Without offering answers, Ledare’s self-reflexive film makes the unequal power relationships within society at large more visible, offering tools for confronting uncomfortable realities.

Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque

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