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Tenth Anniversary Short Films – Oreet Ashery

Watch July's film

They Never Stop Working, Even When You Kiss Them by Oreet Ashery

Film Description:

Oreet Ashery, as her performance character After Shabbtai Zvi enters the offices of the Live Art Development Agency and proceeds to kiss each staff member, and then suck their fingers. This surreal action is interspersed with Shabbtai kissing a fish in a public intervention, re-creating one of the false Messiah's so-called 'Strange Acts'. 


This video is an homage to the continuous sense of commitment I experienced over the years from the Live Art Development Agency. This commitment is expressed not only through passion and expertise, but also through lengthy extra hours and days spent working well beyond the call of duty. Even when I kissed Lois, Andrew and Maria, (I am sure that Daniel and CJ are relieved to have missed this experience), or sucked their fingers, they were still typing away, organising, replying to emails, developing, planning, confirming. Nothing seem to distract them from their mission. This commitment has evidently born fruits: for the last ten years the Live Art Development Agency has been instrumental in bringing Live Art and performative practices to the forefront of artistic and cultural productions, both here in the UK and abroad.

In this kissing intervention I wanted to materialise, test and embody live art/performance legacy and ability to deal with transgression, border crossing (in a professional context in this occasion), taboos, risk taking, body politics and notions of intimacy. I knew that the Live Art Development Agency will put their mouths where their ethos lays.

Over the years and with support from many people, including Lois, Daniel and Andrew, I have learnt that what seems to be silly, foolish, small, out of place, out of the ordinary, forbidden, uncomfortable, embarrassing, humiliating even, carries an agency. Working with fictional characters, and now doing so with others, has always been a useful transforming tool.

The kissing and sucking was work, I felt the affects of unconsciousness and socio/cultural registers impossible to articulate immediately after. This inability to fully internalise, and externalise, those registers are perhaps some of the reasons I have initially found the footage cringing and nearly impossible to watch. I certainly needed some distance to be able to edit the raw footage.

This piece is a continuation of my interest in working with border crossings and de-territorialisation as a political tool, as well as acts of intimacy, real and constructed. I have worked site-specifically in curators' bedrooms, I have included my family in a number of projects, I have collaborated in the past with people I had intimate relationships with and I have crossed what I perceived as geographical, political, cultural and gender borders in various projects. Those crossings were described by Roberta Mock as Corporeal Turns in her essay Oreet Ashey's Site-Specific Corporeal Turns, published in the book Dancing with Men.

Oreet Ashery is a Jerusalem born, London based interdisciplinary artist. Ashery¹s work looks at intimate narratives, real and fictional, and their relationship to contested social and political realities. The work set to expand the discourse around subjectivity and art practice, mainly through the use of various male alter egos and fictional characters. The work is complex and relational, yet humorous and accessible, Ashery performed and exhibited extensively in international context including art centers, museums, cinemas, galleries, film and performance festivals and biennales. Those have included the Liverpool Biennial, ZKM, Tate Modern, Brooklyn Museum, Pompidou Centre, Freud Museum, Umjetnicki Paviljon, NRLA and Foxy Production. Site-specific locations have including curators' bedrooms in various cities, religious celebration, Qualandia checkpoint, and derelict fishermen's hut. In 2009 Ashery will complete an Artangel public art commission.

Ashery's work has been published and discussed in numerous books and art publications in many languages. Books in English have included Art in the Age of Terrorism, Art Tomorrow, Blasphemy art that offends, and Biographies and Space. The book Dancing with Men, charting ten years of interactive performances and interventions, published by the Live Art Development Agency, is now available through Unbound. The graphic novel the Novel of Nonel and Vovel, in collaboration with Larissa Sansour, published by Charta, will be available from June 2009.

Ashery is a recipient of an AHRC creative fellowship award, she is based in the Drama department at Queen Mary University, London.

Click here to go to the Live Art Developement Agency's Directors Channel on You Tube.

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Part of Tenth Anniversary Short Films

A special series of projects including ten short film commissions for the Agency’s tenth anniversary.


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