Born in Jerusalem in 1966, Oreet Ashery is a London-based interdisciplinary visual artist working in live art, video, 2-D image-making, installation and the internet. The work is process-based and context-specific; it investigates body politics and cultural anxiety, questioning notions of subjectivity and authenticity. She frequently produces work as a male character, including Oh Jerusalem, a single screen projection, looped black-and-white silent video for gallery viewing, in which the artist dresses up as both an orthodox Jewish man and an Arab man. The two characters alternate and perform an endless repetition of several acts: sitting on a chair, picking up a large paper cone, looking through the cone and ‘discovering’ Jerusalem and embracing the image of Jerusalem. The repetitions get faster and faster until the two characters merge into one another in their endless spirals. Their mannerisms are reminiscent of Keaton and Chaplin and, as such, refer to the history of film and representation, while simultaneously provoking the history of conflict.
Ashery exhibits, performs, intervenes and screens her work extensively, both in the UK and abroad, in both established public spaces including Tate Modern, the Pompidou Centre and the Freud Museum, and experimental locations including curators’ bedrooms, a men-only religious celebration, the Qalandia checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, and a derelict fishermen’s hut. Ashery is a fellow in the drama department at Queen Mary University, London.
Ashery’s Oh Jerusalem can currently be seen at the Out of Chaos; Ben Uri: 100 years in London exhibition at the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House.