Oreet Ashery, Hairoism, 2009-2011
Oreet Ashery

Oreet Ashery (*1966, Israel, UK) is a visual artist who works across established arts institutions and grassroots social contexts. Ashery’s distinct multiplatform projects combine video, performance, sound, assemblage, and writing. The work is situated and expands the remits of contemporary practice. Ashery narrates stories of marginal and precarious identities, combining autoethnography, collective-knowledge, and biopolitical fiction. Ashery was commissioned in 2022 by KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin, to produce a film that will feature some of the highways in and around Jerusalem. In recent years the work questioned how the boundaries between illness; life and death; body and self are affected by digital technologies. Ashery won the Jarman Film Award in 2017 for her web-series Revisiting Genesis and in 2020 she was the recipient of the Turner Prize Bursary for her exhibition Misbehaving Bodies: Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery, at the Wellcome Collection. The exhibition included her newly commissioned film Dying Under Your Eyes, exploring intimate surveillance. In 2019 Ashery published her monograph How We Die Is How We Live Only More So with Mousse publishing, co-edited with George Vasey. Ashery is an Associate Professor of Art at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.

artist's website: oreetashery.net

As a reflection on Eleanor Antin’s silent movie The King from 1972, which shows the artist transforming herself into her male alter ego, Oreet Ashery has her head shaved in the performance Hairoism. Once she is bald, she takes hair donated to her by the audience and imitates the hairstyles of four famous men – the commander in chief of the Israeli army in the 1950s, Moshe Dayan, the Hamas member Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzouk, the current Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is notorious for his extreme views, and Yasser Arafat / Ringo Starr.
Throughout this process, the amount of hair on her head increases to fit the hair of the four protagonists, starting with the almost hairless Moshe Dayan and ending with the full beard and the full head of hair of Yasser Arafat / Ringo Starr. In the end, the two assistants taking part in the performance begin gluing more and more hair on Ashery’s body and head.
The performance is documented in 5 Polaroid pictures taken during Ashery’s transformation into a hairy monster. The video consists of found footage of the four public figures.

Courtesy Oreet Ashery

Document media
5 photographs, 4 posters, video: colour, sound, 20:00 min

Issue date

To be seen in
Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, 7 October 2011 – 15 January 2012

be-coming, conflict, de/construct identities, masculinity, metamorphosis, queer/drag, trash, violence