Herd Instinct 360 degrees

Herd Instinct 360 degrees


October 1, 2007
Herd Instinct 360 degrees
unitednationsplazaHERD INSTINCT 360 degreesSunday October 7, 2007Jan Verwoert

HERD INSTINCT 360 degrees (2006), a staged situation with sacred undertones, including lectures, performances and communal intake, where the other side of human collective behavior, in society at large as well as in the art-world, is investigated. On Sunday October 7th, Backström will enact her performance HERD INSTINCT 360 degrees followed by a talk and screening of a project by writer Jan Verwoert.


Cult action, group therapy, corporate brain washed consumer combatants. Together we feel good. Crowd behavior: removing the inhibitions of the individual, no personal responsibility. Yet community is pressure. HERD INSTINCT 360 degrees is an invitation to a group of people to be, see, discuss, and listen to talks about community.

Community – the formerly functional organization of people into pockets of activity, the dead end possibility of the communist collective manifestations in Russia and China, the unspecific and affirming notions of community some works of art rest upon, the increasing sophistication of corporate communal behavior and outreach, the Hippie yearnings for a return to the primal gathering, the exclusive clubs building a ‘We-They identity’ paving the way for local and global gated communities, the projection of inherent goodness and empowerment from ‘productive get-togethers’, from the tiniest family unit to the nationalistic one, the pretense of equality. What was to stir action now makes stale.

Let’s have negative group expectations? Yet what experience can be outside of it? Community as communication as co-appearance – Stay Connected.

/Fia Backström


HERD INSTINCT 360 degrees is both a performance and a series of gatherings, which originally were set up during three Sunday afternoons in New York 2005-2006, where a theatrical situation was staged with sacred undertones, in a constructed environment including lectures, performances and communal intake. In HERD INSTINCT 360 degrees, the problematic sides of human collective behavior are investigated, in the art world as well as in society at large, spanning topics such as cult mentality, corporate action and faux activism. The performance addresses group dynamics from mass-psychosis to totalitarian gatherings, including case studies of people’s susceptibility to group think, whether inspired by Malcolm X or Microsoft. Rather than addressing in-the-news issues, HERD INSTINCT 360 degrees, poses skeptical questions about the aspirations for and the very concept of group behavior, whether in the macrocosmic forms of wars, politics movements and global markets, of which the art industry is one; or in the microcosmic form of artists’ communities, collaboratives and collectives.

Jan Verwoert lives in Berlin and is a contributing editor of Frieze. He writes, among others, for Afterall and Metropolis M. He teaches at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam and at the Royal College of Art in London. His book Bas Jan Ader — In Search of the Miraculous was published in 2006 by Afterall Books/MIT Press.


unitednationsplaza is exhibition as school. Structured as a seminar/residency program in the city of Berlin, it will involve collaboration with approximately 60 artists, writers, theorists and a wide range of audiences for a period of one year. In the tradition of Free Universities, most of its events will be open to all those interested to take part.

unitednationsplaza is organized by Anton Vidokle in collaboration with Liam Gillick, Boris Groys, Martha Rosler, Walid Raad, Jalal Toufic, Nikolaus Hirsch, Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Tirdad Zolghadr.


Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a

Berlin 10249 Germany

T. +49 (0)30 700 89 0 90

F. +49 (0)30 700 89 0 85


For further information, please contact Magdalena Magiera:

[email protected]

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October 1, 2007

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