Oreet Ashery

Party for Freedom

London
01 May 2013 - 22 July 2013

Video: Oreet Ashery, Party for Freedom

1 minute 13 seconds
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Somewhere between a travelling cinema and theatre troupe, a kiss-a-gram and a takeaway delivery service, Party for Freedom was an itinerant work combining live performance with moving image and an original album soundtrack.

It was loosely based on Vladimir Mayakovsky’s 1921 play Mystery-Bouffe which tells the story of the Clean and the Unclean. Party for Freedom explored performances of liberation and political nakedness and responded to the changing landscape of Dutch politics following the assassinations of controversial Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn in 2001 and film director Theo van Gogh in 2004, and the ensuing popularity of Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom).

Including newly commissioned punk, experimental and contemporary classical music by Finnish composer Timo-Juhani Kyllönen, all-girl post-punk band Woolf, and musician Morgan Quaintance, the Party for Freedom video featured an irreverent array of characters and scenarios, developed through workshops with volunteers and filmed in the lush setting of a 13th-century church in the English countryside. Questioning the currencies of perceived Western freedom, the work drew on trash aesthetics, leftist sentiments grounded in the 1960s and 1970s avant-garde, the hippy movement and far-right populist claims positing Islam and immigration as a threat.

As well as the video and its soundtrack, Party for Freedom was also a series of events beginning with a launch at Millbank Tower on May Day 2013 followed by concerts and screenings at venues in London throughout May and June 2013. It then travelled to Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in Helsinki and Institute of Contemporary Art Overgaden in Copenhagen as a video installation later that year.


This trailer is also available to watch on Vimeo and Youtube

The microsite made for the purposes of this project, pff.tv, is no longer available online.

Talk: Silvia Federici, People vs Freedom on Land, Animals and Women

And other audio recordings
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Talk: Silvia Federici, People vs Freedom on Land, Animals and Women

People vs. Freedom on Land, Animals and Women ith celebrated feminist writer, teacher and activist Silvia Federici is a talk held alongside the Party for Freedom project by Oreet Ashery.

Somewhere between a travelling cinema and theatre troupe, a kiss-a-gram and a takeaway delivery service, London-based artist Ashery’s Party for Freedom was an itinerant work combining live performance with moving-image and an original album soundtrack.

Recorded at Theatre, Artsadmin, Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial St, London on 23rd July 2013.

You can listen to the talk on Soundcloud


Talk: People vs Freedom — Oreet Ashery in conversation with Tirdad Zolghadr, chaired by T.J. Demos

People vs. Freedom is a series of talks held alongside the Party for Freedom project by Oreet Ashery.

Somewhere between a travelling cinema and theatre troupe, a kiss-a-gram and a takeaway delivery service, London-based artist Ashery’s Party for Freedom was an itinerant work combining live performance with moving-image and an original album soundtrack.

You can listen to the talk on Soundcloud


Image: Three naked performers cradle an obscured fourth performer, as a shaven-headed female screams defiantly towards the audience. They stand in front of a large projection of women's faces painted in bold primary colours under black light, during Party for Hire at No-w-here, Bethnal Green, 5 June 2013. 

Public Gatherings

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Public Gatherings

Party for Freedom travelled to a variety of locations in London in 2013.

These venues fell into two categories: those that were selected for being relevant to different aspects of the project – such as music, immigration profiteering or work – for example Millbank Media Centre at Millbank Tower and OrganicLea, a workers' cooperative on the edge of the Lea Valley; and those that the Party was invited to by members of the public.

The call for invitations was publicised along with a list of frequently asked questions. From the invitations, a number of venues were selected: full list of public gatherings that took place.


Image: Male and female performers in various states of undress sit in an inflatable dinghy as audience members look on during from the side-lines at the ASYLUM Peckham party, 4 May 2013.

Narcissus Revolts

by Maria Walsh 19 June 2013
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Narcissus Revolts

by Maria Walsh
19 June 2013


Oreet Ashery’s travelling troupe of 8 performers exchange the purity of their white garb for the seeming innocence of flesh. They adopt languorous poses that betray the fashionable litheness of their youthful light-skinned bodies. Behind them, a screen projects other naked bodies cavorting in the countryside and media sound bites about Geert Wilders extreme right-wing Party for Freedom, all accompanied by a rip roaring sound track.

I see an allegory of Narcissus abandoned to either reactive acts of passive consumption or political terrorism, the two faces of narcissism as a defensive structure against Others: internal involution and the desire to extinguish the self; or external projection of rage and hatred in acts of aggression. Part-agit-prop, part-epic theatre, Ashery’s inverse mimicry of Wilders extremism exposes the connection between these two faces under the law of capital. I respond with a short fable based on my direct experience of the work and its multifarious references.

Narcissus is in revolt against the law. Unable to find his/her reflection in a system which puts strictures on the means of success that it guarantees and the means of resistance that it allows, S/he is withdrawing from revolution. S/he is going back to Eden to re-find the lost paradise of polymorphously perverse nature in a last ditch attempt to escape the anaemic paralysis of consumer capitalism in which S/he is abandoned without body, without substance other than the smooth veneer of mannequin skin.

Read the complete essay


Image: Five naked performers lie underneath a large projection of a woman in a blonde wig, force-feeding herself in a woodland area during Party for Hire at No-w-here, Bethnal Green, 5 June 2013. 

The Unfinished Revolution

TJ Demos, May 2013
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The Unfinished Revolution

Oreet Ashery's Party for Freedom
TJ Demos, May 2013


In "Geert Wilders Triptych", track 8 of Oreet Ashery’s hour-long video Party for Freedom | An Audiovisual Album (2013), a man is shown chasing a woman around the grass, grunting “Geert” as they go. Both are naked and on all fours. Tracking his female prey in this bizarre tale of sexual experimentation and political theatre — “Geert” references Dutch rightwing politician Geert Wilders — the man kicks like a donkey, and eventually succeeds in grabbing her leg and bringing her down face-first on the ground, as a dog looks on and appears miffed by the curious display. Reminiscent of the scene of the nude chase in The Idiots, Lars von Trier’s 1998 comedy-drama film in which characters attempt to get in touch with their inner-idiot in a related critical acting-out of European libertarianism-become-libertinage, Ashery’s ribald allegory of humans-become-animals offers a subversive mimicry of Wilders’ extreme-right Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom). As such, her moving-image work, constituting ten interconnected tracks, reveals what Fredric Jameson would call the “political unconscious” of rightwing political discourse, exposing its underlying “problematics of ideology, of the unconscious and of desire, of representation, of history, and of cultural production."

Read the complete essay


Image: Still of an obscured man covered in mud lumbering through woodland on all fours, taken from Oreet Ashery's Party for Freedom, An Audiovisual Album, 2013.

Press

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Of particular importance here are notions of freedom: the semantic shift between Geert Wilders's far-right Freedom Party and the idea of literally having a party in order to create some sort of freedom. Libertariansism slips easily into intolerance and freedom easily mutates into a nationalist slogan.  — Colin Perry, Frieze, 2013

Selected Press

PFF is a romp through an unconscious of cavorting nudist performance artists, analinguist musicians, gender bending and hippie aesthetics, but it’s also populated by the forces of right wing populists like Wilders and Niall Ferguson, the encrusted remnants of a global war on terror, white supremacism in Europe and bloody animal sacrifice.  — Nathan Budzinski, The Wire, March 2014

 

Party for Freedom is concerned also with nudity, so expect to see lots of it, both live and on screen.  Ashery's past work has included investigations into bio-politics, and here, her interest in political nudity as viewed through various ideologies including the hippy movement and the Nazism contribute to her objective of highlighting freedoms Western societies take for granted. — Melissa Steiner, DIVA, 09 May, 2013

About Oreet Ashery

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Oreet Ashery

Oreet Ashery is a London based, interdisciplinary visual artist. She worked on two projects with Artangel, Staying (2010) and Party For Freedom (2013).

Ashery’s practice is socially and politically engaged, often takes place in public spaces or situations, and tends to include participatory and interactive elements. Frequently Ashery will produce work as a male character. These have included: an orthodox Jewish man, a black man, a Norwegian postman, a large farmer, a false messiah and an Arab man.

Ashery's work is complex and relational, and at the same time accessible and humorous. Ashery exhibits, performs, intervenes and screens her work extensively in an international context, those have included the Liverpool Biennial, ZKM, Tate Modern, Brooklyn Museum, Pompidou Centre, Freud Museum, Umjetnicki Paviljon, National Review of Live Art and Foxy Production. Context-responsive locations have included curators’ bedrooms in various cities, a men only religious celebration, Qualandia checkpoint, and a derelict fishermen’s hut. 

Ashery’s work has been discussed in numerous art, academic and cultural publications. She has published Dancing with Men: Interactive Performances, Interactions and Other Artworks (Live Art Development Agency, 2009), and The Novel of Nonel and Vovel, a collaborative graphic novel with Larissa Sansour (Charta, 2009), an expanded project including live events, solo exhibitions and residencies.

Ashery is currently AHRC fellow in the drama department at Queen Mary University, and has been engaged with educational work, public art and community based projects for many years.

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Images: Three naked performers lie in a dinghy while two pairings of performers in various states of undress sit on upturned blue boxes closer to the audience at the ASYLUM Peckam party, 4 May (2013): (above) Still from an interview with Oreet Ashery talking about the Solo exhibition Party for Freedom at Overgaden, Copenhagen (2013), courtesy of the artist.

Credits

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Who made this possible?

Credits

Party for Freedom was commissioned and produced by Artangel with the support of Arts Council EnglandMillbank Media Centre, Millbank TowerKone FoundationPerformance MattersLondon College of Communication and Home Live Art

Artangel is generously supported by the private patronage of The Artangel International CircleSpecial AngelsGuardian Angels and The Company of Angels. 


 

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