Oreet Ashery: "Portrait Sketch" (2006)
in the exhibition.
Photograph: Andreas Süß
Oreet Ashery (Israel, UK *1966)
Oreet Ashery is a London-based artist whose work often takes the form of site-specific events with audiences as participants. She explores intimate narratives and gendered religious or cultural identities and their relationships to socio-political realities. Her work operates on the intersections between Jewishness, race, gender and the Arab and Muslim world. During 2006 her on-going project 'Welcome Home' focused on the Palestinians' right to return. Oreet Ashery's work has been shown extensively in museums, at cinemas, festivals, galleries, on streets, the Internet, and in site-specific installations.
"Colored Folks" (2001) is a collaboration between Oreet Ashery and Shaheen Merali and is based on the idea of Ashery becoming a black man and Merali a white woman. The process of discussing identity and becoming took place regularly over many months. " Colored Folks" was first performed in Toynbee Hall, where Ashery and Merali spent several hours being transformed by the late make-up artist and stylist Brixton Bradley in a room away from the audience. A live feed projected the footage onto a monitor in a second room, where people could watch the progress. A VJ mixed footage from the previous months leading up to the performance with the live footage from the performance itself, distorting the sense of time. At the end, Brixton rolled Ashery and Merali out on chairs to face the audience, confronting them with the limitations of make-up. “Articulated here is a suggestion that the performance effected more than the temporary switch in the categories of race and gender. Rather, there is a sense of ... relinquishing the culturally fixed boundaries of subjectivity … to release a desire into a movement of becoming that … has an uncertain outcome.” (Jean Fisher)
In "Portrait Sketch" (2006), as part of a Triangle Arts residency at Khoj, Delhi, Ashery went to Dili-Haat dressed as a Jewish man and asked a street portrait artist to draw her/him. Later the same day, Ashery returned, this time dressed as an Arab man, and asked the same artist to draw her/him. On both occasions, the street artist simply drew what he saw. This intervention explores the complex discourse of constructed identity made simple by the process of the street portrait artist’s doing his job and the relationships between the two artists and the two practices.
The mock-documentary "Marcus Fisher's Wake" fictionalizes the life of Ashery's alter ego, the orthodox Jewish man Marcus Fisher. The grungy film uses footage from interventions, performances and home videos.
Oreet Ashery: "Marcus Fisher's
Wake" (2000). image copyright Oreet Ashery