Visual artist Oreet Ashery was born in west Jerusalem in 1966. Ashery’s father came from a Jewish family who lived in the Muslim Quarter in old Jerusalem for generations. Their mother’s family came from a religious Jewish background and inhabited the orthodox neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. Ashery studied Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University, followed by an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, and a PhD from Reading School of Art at the University of Reading. Their practice includes video, 2D image-making, performance and assemblages. The work explores ideological, social and gender constructions, and draws on Ashery’s personal history and identity, such as taking on a fictional orthodox Jewish male persona called Marcus Fisher (Dancing with Men and Marcus Fisher/Say Cheese).
Ashery’s performance of The World is Flooding at Tate Modern in 2014, was followed by the exhibition Animal with a Language at Waterside Contemporary. The World is Flooding was an adaptation of the play Mystery Bouffe, written by Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1918/1921 and involved participants from Freedom from Torture, LGIG; an LGBTQ+ immigration group, Portugal Prints; an arts project part of MIND charity, and individuals. The project explored themes from the original play around class bias and power through the lens of cleanliness and uncleanliness.
In 2017 Ashery won the Jarman Award for the work Revisiting Genesis, exhibited in London and elsewhere (2016-18), and in 2020 they were awarded a Turner Bursary for their contribution to the exhibition Misbehaving Bodies: Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery at the Wellcome Collection in London (due to the pandemic the bursary replaced the Turner Prize that year). Their work has been exhibited internationally including at KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin, the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Venice Biennial, and the Freud Museum, London.
Ashery held various academic posts including Research Fellow at Queen Mary University London, Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art (2013-15) and Stanley Picker Fellow in Fine Art at Kingston University (2014). They are currently a Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of the MFA Fine Art at The Ruskin School of Art in Oxford and Director of Studies in Fine Art at Exeter College.
Ashery’s work is in various public and private collections including: Wellcome Collection; Norwich Castle Museum, UK; Sundsvall Museum, Sweden; Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; QiTa Museum, Shanghai; Mario Cader-Frech, Mexico City; EDS Galeria, Mexico City; ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; Brooklyn Museum; Mag Collection, Ferens Art Gallery.