Oreet Ashery

Staying

St. Aloysius Social Club, London NW1
20 January 2010

Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories was inspired by the lengthy administrative procedures that require gay asylum seekers to prove their sexual identity and often, their new western gay lifestyle. These alter egos are manifestations of an aspect of the women's stories; developed in a group context they become a linguistic shortcut, facilitating a shared understanding of what that character represents wihut the need for explanations. 

Ashery worked with the women, developing fictional characters and alter egos that channelled their ideas, stories and traumas into different types of narratives. In contrast to legal demands for complete accuracy, accountability and clarity in their applications to stay, the creative processes in Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories generated repetitions, slippages, gaps in memory, interpretations, group work and fictions in immersive, deeply revealing and often painful insights into the women’s experiences. Presentations by established lesbian artists, performer Lois Weaver, poet Cherry Smyth and filmmaker Campbell X, alongside discussions, debates, arguments and reflections on character work and autobiographies informed and inspired the workshops.

The project addresses issues that are frequently concealed, ignored or invisible. Ashery has worked with discussions, monologues, interviews, handwriting, images, portraits, doodles and other material during a series of intimate and emotionally raw workshops with the women, to form Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories. A deck of twelve tarot-style cards, featuring each of the women’s characters, and a dynamic, moving and richly crafted booklet of essays can be downloaded.


Image: Character interpretation: Treeman, created during Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories Oreet Ashery, 2010. Photograph: Mariana Arribas

Making Staying

Oreet Asherly on Staying and Learning
Read more

LGBT immigration clients suffer a double bind of otherness: they are foreign and sexually different. As Home Office officials might learn more about the sensitivity and specificity of these cases, attitudes might change positively. — Oreet Asherly

Introduction: Staying and Learning

By Oreet Ashery, 2009


I have learnt so much from this project.

When Artangel first approached me about the possibility of working with them, I had already learnt from Satoko Fujishiro at Artangel that within the complex area of immigration law there are also specific immigration laws and procedures that apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people. The majority of LGBT individuals arriving in the UK who approach charities for help in filing their cases are gay men, and lesbians constitute a much smaller, and at times perhaps invisible, group of clients. The Staying project was set up to draw attention and awareness to lesbians who have undergone traumatising experiences in their respective countries due to their visible, or hidden, sexual orientation and who are seeking refuge in the UK in order to save themselves physically, mentally and emotionally.

From the start I realised that as someone who continuously deals with some of the complex, broad and shifting notions of immigration, and prides herself on this involvement, I actually knew nothing about immigration laws in relation to sexual orientation. Jill Power from the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) met with Satoko and I at the onset of the project and kindly described to us in detail the specific procedures that a LGBT person might expect on arrival in the UK. Court cases, appeals, repeated appeals, detention, deportation, uncertainty, poverty and depression are some of the things that characterise the years Jill’s clients spend when they first arrive. However, there are also a few victories and some clients do become legal refugees and are allowed to stay and work here. Jill also said that, finally, the Home Office had asked for officers to be trained specifically in LGBT cases. I think this is a big step forward in the right direction. LGBT immigration clients suffer a double bind of otherness: they are foreign and sexually different. As Home Office officials might learn more about the sensitivity and specificity of these cases, attitudes might change positively. I learnt a hell of a lot from that meeting and you can find more about this aspect of the project in Jill’s text in the back section of the book.

Read the complete essay

Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Characters

Character portraits
Read more

Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Characters

A character transforms her life stories into the rooms of a house; another becomes a bin; others become a dream, a soft stud, a super lover and a gun who transforms into a camera... The characters are are the creation of Oreet Ashery and twelve lesbian women who fled Nigeria, Uganda, Angola, Gambia, Jamaica, Barbados and other countries after suffering traumatising discrimination against their sexual identity and orientation.

Each card that was created alongside the publication, portrays a character that was developed through a series of creative workshops with twelve lesbian women who have come to the UK to seek sanctuary. The workshops explored alter egos as a way of talking about traumas; overwhelming memories; specific experiences with the legal system in the UK; and pressing questions around sex and relationships. The characters are presented here as a series of archetypes intended to promote and facilitate discussion.

Read more about the characters


Image: Character interpretation: Cloud, created during Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories Oreet Ashery, 2010. Photograph: Mariana Arribas

Book: Staying

Staying was produced by Oreet Asherly with LGBT asylum seekers.
Read more

Oreet Ashery: Staying

Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories was inspired by the lengthy administrative procedures that require gay asylum seekers to prove their sexual identity and often, their new western gay lifestyle. Ashery worked with the women, developing fictional characters and alter egos that channelled their ideas, stories and traumas into different types of narratives; in contrast to legal demands for complete accuracy, accountability and clarity in their applications to stay. The texts produced in this publication were later used productively in court cases. Contributing authors include Oreet Ashery, Jill Power, Catherine Robinson and Julia Austin

Why even draw a comparison with therapy? Guffawing with laughter whilst debating the merits of sex toys certainly doesn’t remind me of any trips I’ve paid to shrinks; the mere thought seems faintly sacrilegious. Jokes aside – though Ashery’s practice reminds us that we should never forsake humour, even or especially when the stakes are high – many of the alter ego performances in Staying involve the revisiting and retelling of traumatic events. Whether writing alone in the guise of an alter ego or narrating their stories live during a workshop, these acts of transmission can in part be understood as trauma narratives. — Julia Austin

Staying — as well as twelve conversation cards for use in a group to facilitate discussion, debate, the sharing of information and potential new art works — are available to download as PDF files below


 

About Oreet Ashery

Read more

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.

filer_public_thumbnails/filer_public/a3/76/a3768468-6682-447f-ada1-c9f229b2b5ba/2010s_artist_04.jpg__300x999999_q85_subsampling-2.jpg

Images: (left) Character interpretation, created during Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories Oreet Ashery (2010). Photograph: Mariana Arribas; (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

Read more

Who made this possible?

Credits

Produced for Artangel by Rachel Anderson, with the generous support of City Parochial Foundation and the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group. 

Artangel is supported by Arts Council England, Artangel International Circle, Special AngelsGuardian Angels and The Company of Angels.


 

filer_public_thumbnails/filer_public/29/0f/290f9eba-5200-42b1-8014-c8194fde06a4/lottery_logo_black.png__99999x100_q85_subject_location-500,201_subsampling-2.png
filer_public_thumbnails/filer_public/72/a2/72a2f435-229d-409c-828a-e170572c10ed/logo_city-parochial-foundation.png__99999x100_q85_subsampling-2.png
filer_public_thumbnails/filer_public/ee/1e/ee1eef69-aacc-4c6b-8afb-d232fb46c1c1/logo_uk-lesbian-and-gay-immigration-group.png__99999x50_q85_subsampling-2.png