(How Can I Own That Which is Stolen) – Carskins, Animated gif, 2022.
Oreet Ashery
How Can I Own That Which is Stolen

Oreet Ashery (*1966, West-Jerusalem, 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

How Can I Own That Which is Stolen is a multifaceted contribution to re.act feminism #3 and a response to the conversation between Verena Melgarejo Weinandt, Suza Husse and Oreet Ashery. This constellation of songs, a video clip and a series of graphic images presented as a gif is part of a larger body of research Ashery has been engaged with since 2020. This research looks at highways in and around Jerusalem as a material manifestation of the expanded occupation of Palestine marked by violent segregation policies. Across the journey, Ashery has been tracing autobiographical routes as a young person growing up in Jerusalem: a striptease on the edge of a fast road as a performative act of counter-patriarchal revenge, and a later event where Ashery was kidnapped for several hours inside a car. Both incidences are the subject of A Song of Waste, Revenge, where Ashery partly fictionalises the kidnapping from the driver’s perspective as a motif of structural violence. The song is illustrated by the gif animation Carskins combining paintings of embryos, bones, breasts, and spray paints with digital graphics of a car into carskins. (Oreet Ashery / Suza Husse)

A video clip titled A-Man-Da features an ambiguous alien, dressed in worn military clothing, hitchhiking around Jerusalem. The alien exudes an agency of soft control and extraction. The second song, A Song of Le Petit Combatant, depicts a resistance fighter overcome by temporal exhaustion from challenging regimes of ownership and domination. A-Man-Da features Amanda Millis, filmed by Mussa Qawasma and Oreet Ashery.


Song of Le Petit Combatant

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

You’re hiking East
You’re walking West
You’re running pierced
You’re hiding breast
Sky to earth
Earth to birth

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

You are so scared
You cannot breath
East to west
West to breath
Breast to kneel
Kneel to heal

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

All is bad
Doom is here
The-powers-at-play
Bring up the fear
No where to hide
From the shame
Because inside
There is no frame

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

You’re a man
You’re a beast
You have a breast
You need to
Feed
Between your legs there nothing much
And no one cares
Once you’ve hatched:

Baby birds
And baby queers
Baby thoughts
And baby deer
Baby lamb
And baby rats
Bad ideas
And stupid hats

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

You’re so brave
It makes you sick
And this white dick
Is not your stick
You’re casting spells
To save what’s left
And then forget
It’s all a theft

They’ve kidnapped this
They’ve stolen that
And you are hurt
Inside your heart

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

The dead alive
The living dead
It’s not your fault
It’s just the dread
And deep inside
You know defeat

You don’t give up
You save the beat
You march along
So you belong

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

You’re hiking East
You’re walking West
You’re running pierced
You’re hiding breast
Sky to earth
Earth to birth

You go for gold
Because it’s free
But when you touch - its bourgeoise
It’s the sublime
That make you climb
But every day
You have to pay

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

The olive trees
Are there to last
But when they come
They burn them live
You forced to flee
Cos you’re not free

- So I’m not free

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

The sun is hot
There is no shade
But you are cold
And froze to death
Freeze is good
Cause it’s preserves
So you can tell
What is your tale

You tell your tale
Until they hear
And then you run
From the frontier
To worlds apart
That keep you here
To worlds afar
That keep you near
You want a hug
Without a pay
But with your job
It’s still a year

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

The land is green
The land is dry
The land is lush
The land is shy
You walk it up
You walk it down
You own it none
They want more town

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant

The lands belong to those who earn:
Wolves and bees, and those return
And when a flag is put upon her
The water drops and tears uphold her

Where is healing?
Where is revenge?
I can only survive
If we share a bench

You’re hiking East
You’re walking West
You’re running pierced
You’re hiding breast
Sky to earth
Earth to birth

Le Petit Combatant
Le Petit Combatant


Song of Waste, Revenge

So far so near
Being kidnapped was a trauma
They say
you courting drama
revenge is never sweet
But it wasn’t all defeat

It is like being kidnapped. I am kidnapped.
Trees, metal, speed, heartbeat.
Locked in the car skin, my new womb life.
It doesn’t matter what I love or where I went.
I no longer own myself. I’m owned

I do the math and the chances are slim. There is no way out.
I fall into learnt helplessness.
But I find a way to own myself again.
I tell a joke inside my head.

My friend keeps pointing at cars and shouting:
These are my parents!
Even I believe her.
The driver is trying to stroke her leg. Creep.
But she is jumping up and down. He can’t. It’s irritating him.

So far so near
Being kidnapped was a trauma
They say
you courting drama
revenge is never sweet
But it wasn’t all defeat

We turn into an orange grove.
Our hands are tied. We are fed fruit.
I look at the small knife.
I am going to end up in a bin bag.
In pieces.
Like the girl that was found two weeks ago.
Maybe it was these two.
Though I can tell they don’t know why it started and how it will end.

So far so near
Being kidnapped was a trauma
They say
you courting drama
revenge is never sweet
But it wasn’t all defeat

Not him again.
Locked in the car, my new life.
Next to him.
I find my backpack where I left it. I fumble inside for safety.
I took spray paint for protection.
I wish it was acid.
David and Goliath
He pulls the can away from my hand. He sprays my legs.
I have freaky blue legs.

The driver pushes my friend out.
He had enough.
She looks at me from the other side.
Pale as hell.
Like she will never see me again.
Like a traitor.

So far so near
Being kidnapped was a trauma
They say
you courting drama
revenge is never sweet
But it wasn’t all defeat

I think about the bin bag with body parts.
Trees, metal, speed, heartbeat.
Locked in the car, my new life.
They throw me out of the car.
M and I are reunited.
We are fighting and hitchhiking again.

In Tel Aviv police station, the police officer is looking at us.
He says:
What do you expect hitchhiking in shorts.

So far so near
Being kidnapped was a trauma
They say
you courting drama
revenge is never sweet
But it wasn’t all defeat

I am sick of men staring at my new breasts.
I want revenge.
I don’t need reminding that I am becoming a wo@man.
The road game gives me the idea.

We run out of school.
To the road.
We lay down waiting for cars to run us over.
Nearly.
Like sardines waiting for the tin opener.
The last remaining one is the winner.
Or the looser.
Depending on the drivers and how much they shout.
If I cared for a child I would stop them.
But this country is full of dare-you shit.

So far so near
Being kidnapped was a trauma
They say
you courting drama
revenge is never sweet
But it wasn’t all defeat

S takes me on his 75cc scooter, pretending to be a racer.
We stop on the highway near the Old City.
The holiest of all roads.
I strip.
Wriggling slowly like a pro.
Some cars slow down, I think.
I want them to crash.
Breasts will be the last image imprinted on their retina.
If I cared for a child I would hug her.
This country ain’t for girls who don’t want to fight.
No cars crashed or swerved.

Two years later I am kidnapped.
I’m writing this down in case someone has an idea for revenge.

So far so near
Being kidnapped was a trauma
They say
you courting drama
revenge is never sweet
But it wasn’t all defeat

Sixteen, Seventeen, don’t know.
Shorts, sandals, vests, small tits, small everything.

My road.
My car.
My rules.

They are hitchhiking.
Like pussies. Like they don’t mean it. Like they are doing us a favour.
M is slowing down. He knows how I feel.

They come in the car. How easy was that. Too easy.
I open the dashboard so they can see the knife.
I use it to peel fruits.
I’ve got this.

We turn into the orange grove.
We feed them oranges.

They come in the car. How easy was that. Too easy.
M is driving next to number 1.
I sit at the back next to number 2.
Number 1 doesn’t stop shouting.
Where did she learn this shit?
M is distracted.
I take the knife and cut little strands of number 2’s hair.
She is fiddling with her bag.
She is trying to spray me with some blue shit.
I am going to get blind.
I grab the can and spray her legs. She looks funny.

M can’t take it anymore. He throws number 1 out.
She looks right into my car.
We know she is free.
2 is covered in blue dots.
M slows down again. She is out.
I don’t like dirt in my car.

M and I go to the car wash.
It is going to cost a bomb.

So far so near
Being kidnapped was a trauma
They say
you courting drama
revenge is never sweet
But it wasn’t all defeat


For More information on the work, it’s making and contexts see the zine she creates nightmares against colonial desires (see relations)

Selected work from the re.act.feminism archive
Teresa María Díaz Nerio: Hommage à Sara Bartman

Format
Video; animated gif; Songs

Document media
Video, colour, sound, 1:38 min; Animated gif; Lyrics

Issue date
2022

To be seen in
revenge ~ avatars and manyness*, re.act.feminism #3 – polyphonies. interferences. drifts., 2022-2023

Relations
Zine download: she creates nightmares against colonial desires

Curated by
Suza Husse
A
Ebtisam Abdulaziz
Marina Abramović
Helena Almeida
Eleanor Antin
Arahmaiani
Malin Arnell
Oreet Ashery
Augusta Atla
Margarita Azurdia
B
Antonia Baehr
Maja Bajević
Anne Bean
Anat Ben-David
Renate Bertlmann
Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz
Nisrine Boukhari
Marijs Boulogne
Tania Bruguera
Nancy Buchanan
Maris Bustamante
C
Cabello / Carceller
Shirley Cameron/ Monica Ross/ Evelyn Silver
Graciela Carnevale
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Helen Chadwick
Chicks on Speed
Lygia Clark
Mary Coble
Colette
Cooltūristės
Corpus Deleicti
Nieves Correa
Laura Cottingham
Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen
D
Katrina Daschner
Vlasta Delimar
Carola Dertnig
Teresa María Díaz Nerio
Disband
Ines Doujak
Orshi Drozdik
Yingmei Duan
Kirsten Dufour
E
Diamela Eltit
Rose English
VALIE EXPORT
F
F.F.F.F.
Factory of Found Clothes
Esther Ferrer
Les filles Föllen
Rose Finn-Kelcey
Angelika Fojtuch
Simone Forti
Coco Fusco
G
(e.) Twin Gabriel
Regina José Galindo
Anna Bella Geiger
Rimma Gerlovina and Valeriy Gerlovin
Patrycja German
Ghazel
Kate Gilmore
Trine Mee Sook Gleerup
H
Mona Hatoum
Lynn Hershman
High Heel Sisters
María Teresa Hincapié
Nan Hoover
I
Icelandic Love Corporation - Gjörningaklúbburinn
Sanja Iveković
J
Elżbieta Jabłońska
Françoise Janicot
Joan Jonas
Anne Jud
Birgit Jürgenssen
Kirsten Justesen
K
Kanonklubben
Line Skywalker Karlström
Tina Keane
Klonaris / Thomadaki
Bettina Knaup & Beatrice Ellen Stammer
Jakob Lena Knebl
Verica Kovacevska
Elena Kovylina
Katarzyna Kozyra
Christina Kubisch
Kvinder på Værtshus (Women down the pub)
Verena Kyselka
L
Nicola L
Latifa Laâbissi
Leslie Labowitz
Leslie Labowitz & Suzanne Lacy
Suzanne Lacy
Katalin Ladik
Sigalit Landau
Klara Lidén
Kalup Linzy
Natalia LL
Léa Lublin
M
Jumana Manna
Manon
MaraM
María Evelia Marmolejo
Muda Mathis
Dóra Maurer
Mónica Mayer
Ana Mendieta
Marta Minujín
Fina Miralles
Molly and me
Linda Montano
Charlotte Moorman
Teresa Murak
Sands Murray-Wassink
MwangiHutter
N
Narcissister
Rabbya Naseer & Hurmat Ul Ain
Senga Nengudi
Les Nyakes
O
Lorraine O'Grady
Itziar Okariz
Yoko Ono
ORLAN
Tanja Ostojić
Paulina Ołowska & Lucy McKenzie
Funda Özgünaydin
Hannah O’Shea
P
Gina Pane
Letícia Parente
Ewa Partum
Jillian Peña
Performance Saga
Sanja Iveković & Performance Saga
Friederike Pezold
Howardena Pindell
Adrian Piper
Mariuccia Pisani
Polvo de Gallina Negra
Pussy Riot
R
Yvonne Rainer
Eglė Rakauskaitė
Jytte Rex
Àngels Ribé
La Ribot
Jesusa Rodríguez / Liliana Felipe
Ulrike Rosenbach
Martha Rosler
Boryana Rossa
María Ruido
S
Raeda Saadeh
Estíbaliz Sábada
Andrea Saemann
Zorka Ságlová
Les Salonnières and Dr. Soley
Christine Schlegel
Cornelia Schleime
Carolee Schneemann
Schwarze Schokolade
Stefanie Seibold
Stefanie Seibold & Teresa María Díaz Nerio
Miriam Sharon
Bonnie Ora Sherk
Barbara T. Smith
Cornelia Sollfrank
Antonieta Sosa
Spiderwoman Theater
Annie M. Sprinkle
Sandra Sterle
Gabriele Stötzer
Annika Ström
Melati Suryodarmo
Anna Szwajgier/ Zorka Wollny
T
Jinoos Taghizadeh
Milica Tomić
Mare Tralla
Teresa Tyszkiewicz
U
Mierle Laderman Ukeles
V
Valie Export Society
Cecilia Vicuña
W
The Waitresses
Faith Wilding
Hannah Wilke
Martha Wilson
Julita Wójcik
Y
Nil Yalter
Yeni & Nan