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The Task (2017)

Single channel video and sound – 118 min

Directed by Leigh Ledare

Originally exhibited at Art Institute Chicago Sep 8 – Dec 31, 2017

True False Film Festival, BAM CinemaFest, American Academy/Rome, Hessel Museum, Metrograph NYC and Criterion Channel

Leigh Ledare’s 2017 film The Task comprises an intervention into a renowned method of experimental social psychology initially developed in the 1950s at London’s Tavistock Institute. Ledare began by staging an immersive three-day Group Relations conference—an intricate feedback apparatus designed to surface and reflect upon unconscious group phenomena—around which he conceived a complex filming structure. In addition to directing the film’s crew, Ledare assembled a diverse group of twenty-eight participants that represented a cross-section of Chicago and secured the collaboration of ten psychologists trained in the method. During a sequence of small and large group encounters, the group enacts a temporary institution whose purpose is to study itself—an abstract “task” that allows participants to examine the identities, roles, desires and biases that individuals import into the group, as well as the emergence of conscious and unconscious group dynamics.
The Task sites the viewer at the intersection between the individual, the group and the camera. The film’s seven chapters focus on the last three of four large group sessions that took place, each of which included all 28 participants, three psychologists (or “consultants”), six camera operators, three observers—and Ledare himself, whose presence serves as both rupture and mirror. Throughout the film, the group’s members confront the emergence of complex patterns of stereotyping and other projections of identity; assumptions around authority are defined, questioned, and transgressed; and viewers of the film are implicated as its members negotiate subjective forces which exceed the structured constraints of the self-made system.

© 2017 Leigh Ledare

View Trailer

Film available on Criterion Channel or visit Leighledare.com/The-Task