Leigh Ledare’s Plots were among the works produced for the artist’s 2017-2018 solo exhibition The Plot at The Art Institute of Chicago. Presented in two adjacent spaces, the interconnected works in this exhibition stemmed from Ledare’s interventions into a method of systems-based social psychology developed at the London’s Tavistock Institute by the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion.
The exhibition revolved around Ledare’s acclaimed feature film The Task: in conceptualizing and directing The Task, Ledare utilized the Tavistock Method to enact a temporary institution whose sole purpose was to study itself.
The film unfolds over the course of an immersive three-day conference organized by Ledare in which a group of participants and a team of psychologists construct and analyze a social “ecosystem” whose task it is to study its own unconscious dynamics. Through a series of conversations focused on the group as a whole, participants explore aspects of authority and identity by confronting differences and examining the impact of issues such as race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomics. Ledare and a camera crew are present as additional collaborators, modifying the method and the results while serving to mirror the effects of the camera in contemporary life. This intervention—a disruption of the selfcontained system—complicates the structure of authority and boundaries within the assembled group, implicating the viewer in turn.
An installation of assemblages of found mass-media images along with other works acted as footnotes to the film. The titles to these works — Plots, Data, and Containment — suggest that the construction of meaning is always fragmentary and necessitates an ongoing effort, an idea also conveyed by the title of The Task.
These works can be arranged either sculpturally as tables or hung on the wall. The individual titles of the Plots correspond to The Task’s seven chapter headings and explore cultural codes that emerge as central themes in the film.