Unorthodox, multi-layered and eclectic, Oreet Ashery’s expansive body of work confronts ideological, social and gender constructions within the fabric of personal and broader contemporary realities. Ashery mines counter-culture aesthetics and traverses photography, video, mass-produced and unique artefacts, text, commissioned music, and performance.
Ashery's recent presentations include Stanley Picker Gallery Kingston, Tyneside Cinema Newcastle, fig-2 at ICA London, waterside contemporary, and projects like Party for Freedom, presented in venues across London with Artangel, and The World is Flooding at Tate Modern. She has exhibited and performed extensively at international contexts such as ZKM Karlsruhe, Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, Brooklyn Museum, Overgaden Copenhagen, DEPO Istanbul, Whitstable Biennale, Centre Pompidou, and Freud Museum.
Revisiting Genesis is a web series on death, withdrawal, digital afterlife industries, friendships, care and feminist reincarnations. The work mixes scripted and improvised dialogues with real life interviews.
Reactivating The Clean and The Unclean, the protagonists of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s revolutionary 1921 play Mystery-Bouffe, Ashery collaboratively produced a collection of ponchos and headgear. These humble forms of dress made from ubiquitous cleaning materials - dish cloths, wipes, dusters – are the uniforms of speculative purists and partisans, exploited labourers and heroes. Adorned with this couture collection, the cast expose themselves to the inevitable risk of becoming objectified fashion icons.
Part catwalk, part punk-rock concert, part emancipated choreography, 21st Century Carpet Sale! moves between threads of poetic resistance, musical declarations, and a foil of chaotic revelry. Historical moments summoned from humble materials of the Great Hall are regenerated as the evening culminated with an auction of the Swedenborg Carpet. Guests had a chance to bid on and own a piece of this legendary collection, in exchange for incremental measures of freedom.
Ashery explores the potentials and dilemmas of liberation in a culture at odds with itself. The exhibition Party for Freedom takes its title from the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilder’s neo-liberal freedom party Partij voor de Vrijheid, known for its anti-immigration views. A three-screen video projection forms a tableau of ten audio-visual sequences with a specially commissioned soundtrack ranging from contemporary classical music, to Jazz-fusion and punk. Creating a sensory universe, imbedded in trash aesthetics, that combines a film-essay with performative scenarios, the work explores freedom as a deeply conflicted and contradictory entity.
Especially for her show at Overgaden, Ashery has created a participatory installation piece titled ‘The Space for Freedom is Getting Smaller and Less Transparent’. Visitors to Overgaden are invited to enter a built structure and paint its transparent plastic walls. As the walls are covered in paint, the outside world becomes obscured. Every other week an additional transparent structure will be constructed within the previous one.
A performance based on Mystery Bouffe, a Mayakovsky play written in 1921 for the anniversary of the 1917 Russian revolution. Over several months, Ashery worked with a group of participants to write, produce, and direct the work. The absurd emerges as a continuous theme throughout the performance, where we are confronted with the absurdity of politics, of the language of administration and power, and of class and socially based biases. The performance includes specially made costumes, banners and a zine produced over the course of the workshops.
Hairoism was first invited by Oriana Fox for a Tate Modern event looking at feminist works from the 1970s at the Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths. Hairoism looked at Eleanor Antin’s The King, 1972. Hairosim is a performance dedicated to four hairstyles of four male public figures. The first figure has the least hair and the last has the most, allowing Ashery to become hairier as the piece progresses. Ashery’s appearance transforms from one hour to the next, as two assistants apply hair kindly donated by the audience, and real hair bought in advance, to her shaved head. Each hour a video loop of each figure is playing in turn.
The artist dressed as an Orthodox Jewish man whilst dancing with Orthodox Jewish men.
Oreet Ashery’s alter ego Marcus Fisher is an orthodox Jewish man, the first time Ashery is dressed as an Orthodox Jew was in 1974, at the age of 8. The project includes performances, videos, interventions, prints and found material. It is an expanding archive of Jewishness as cultural material.
Nonel and Vovel are the names of the artists Oreet Ashery and Larissa Sansour’s alter egos. Both names are based on typos of the word ‘novel’. The digital triptych, made in collaboration with Larissa Sansour and titled Nonel and Vovel’s Inferno, continues the duo’s interrogation of the conditions of the occupation of Palestine. In the left panel we see Ashery and Sanour under an olive tree with a smoking camera and pen, as if tools of documentation are burning out. The middle panel is made of various planet like worlds, each depict another scenario from the occupation, such as children suffering post traumatic stress and wetting their bed, or mobile phone airwave being controlled. On the right panel we see the artists triumphantly walking away from the distraction of The Wall and eating falafel, however they enter the middle panel again as ghosts, living in a perpetual cycle of liberation fantasies.