Alessandra Cianetti in conversation with Oreet Ashery /
Xavier de Sousa & Alessandra Cianetti in conversation with Sea Sharp /
Online resources & artist commissions 


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Alessandra: Oreet, I remember the first time we properly met was in 2016 when I co-curated a performative lecture of yours as part of Something Human’s ‘Scarred, Shifting and Sacred Places’ live art programme at Autograph ABP, London, in response to Alida Silvestri’s powerful photographic work on Female Genital Mutilation. At the time I remember you mentioning wanting to shift your practice from your focus on live art to exploring new media. Following the work you have been creating since then - if I am not wrong! - video, technology and collaboration are something you have been working with, however, I found your work still deeply performative in its essence. I wonder what is the line/border you draw, if any, between your performative practice and visual artwork?

Oreet: Thank you for reminding me of that event as it helps tracing the webs of contexts which relates to your question. I agree that my work always stems from some kind of a performance, informed by childhood and teens spent performing rituals and public interventions intuitively. Those became professionalised in later years. I don’t really draw a line between the two as I always performed to camera in a sense and my current moving image work are still deeply informed by performance practices. The difference one could ascertain is the distribution. I am always incredibly curious about forms of distributions and in a sense my practice over the years has been expanding notions of distribution as part of the work itself. So for example the web series Revisiting Genesis 2016, has been distributed episodically online, as well as in biennials and galleries, but its inherent mode of distribution has been the internet. It was born there and will disappear there. Currently my new film Dying Under your Eyes, 2019, is more of an experimental documentary about the death of my father in 2018, and as such I would imagine it could be distributed in film festivals as well as galleries and museums. Films festivals have their own planetary system, with their own logistics, just like performance festivals are. My refusal to brand my work into a specific category of distribution is political. [...]


Image credits: Oreet Ashery, Dying Under You Eyes, 27 minutes film, 2019, commissioned by Wellcome Collection


Alessandra: I came across your work for the first time last November when at the Camden People's Theatre I had the privilege to see your powerfully written and performed Brother Insect. For performingborders, I'd love to touch with you a topic that we haven't addressed enough so far: poetry and performance. Would you mind to tell us more about how the two practices coexist in your creative processes and what are for your boundaries (if any) and point of attrition (if any) both on a personal and artistic level?

Sea: Although I consider myself to be a poet by trade, in the context of Brother Insect, I really thought I was writing a solo theatre show, not poetry. On reflection (and after receiving audience feedback), it should have come as no surprise that many people interpreted it as “performance poetry”, with stanzas that blurred into monologues and pages that morphed into dramatic scenes.

This wasn’t intentional on my part, but I’m not upset by these results either. I’m coming to terms that my art is an inherent hybrid of poetry and performance and that’s okay by me.

As for setting boundaries and limitations, on both a personal and artistic level, I find it challenging to recognize and prioritize self-care and press pause or even just say “no” before I burn myself out. I keep forgetting to rest, reset and refuel. I guess I’m not immortal anymore!

Xavier: Tell us a bit about the process of writing and making Brother Insect. What was the intention to write this piece and perform it with another performer on stage? 

Sea: This was originally written as a one-person show, with me taking the role of the solo performer. At the time, I had absolutely no intentions of inviting another performer onboard, but I’m so glad that I did!

In the lead up to Brother Insect, I was having constant meltdowns. To put things into perspective, I was developing this theatrical show in addition to working my full-time office job. I literally used up the majority of my holiday leave in order to make enough time to collaborate with up to 7 different people in my creative team. On top of all this, I was also working towards memorizing the entire script, whilst playing the role of director and stage manager. I was also caught up in the middle of a very demanding process of publishing a full-length book of my poems (Waterloo Press). This, of course, meant that I spent most weekends editing, revising, reviewing my manuscript and having lengthy meetings with my editor and mentor. I also continued to perform poetry at events alongside some really important poets like Grace Nichols (Strong Words) and Maria Jastrzębska (Coast is Queer).

As a result of having very little spare time, my relationships and social life really suffered. I was so burnt out!  I had countless explosive cry-sessions both inside and outside of therapy.

Exactly four weeks prior to opening night at Camden People’s Theatre in London (just after presenting a successful excerpt of Brother Insect at Dean Atta’s Black Flamingo Cabaret), I suddenly came to a revelation: I wasn’t myself because I was experiencing an epic adult-tantrum. This is what led me to the decision of changing the entire script and locating another performer to help relieve some of the pressure I was experiencing.

As you can see, it was a very messy process and definitely not what I envisioned from the start, but I’m very happy with the results. My lead performer, Michelle, was a godsend –I couldn’t have performed that role better!


Image credits: Brother Insect, 2019

For more information about performingborders | LIVE 2019 click here

Image credits: Raju Rage's keynote, performingborders | LIVE 2019, Photo by Studio MaBa
Lois Keidan - Live Art Development Agency | Tania El Khoury | Núria Güell | Helena Walsh | Almir Koldzic - Counterpoints Arts | Natasha Davis | Marilena Zaroulia - Winchester University | Sara Zaltash | Kai Syng Tan | Federica Mazzara - Westminster University | Lisa Alexander | Michaela Crimmin - Culture+Conflict | Lucia Palmero | guest post: Elena Marchevska | Bill Aitchison | Áine Phillips | Moran Been-noon | Noel Kelly - Visual Artists IrelandSuzanne Walsh | Katherine Nolan | Elvira Santamaría-Torres | Brian Patterson - BBeyond | Amanda Coogan | Dominic Thorpe | Níamh Murphy - Dublin Live Art Festival | Martin Bureau | Xavier de Sousa | Mengting Zhuo | Riccardo Matlakas | Eca Eps | Esther Planas | guest post: Kevin Biderman | queeringborders: Mariscrycrycry | queeringborders: Greg Wohead | queeringborders: Sebastian H-W | queeringborders: Rachael Young | Rita Marcalo | Tanja Ostojić | guest post: Loredana Paracciani interviews Abdul Abdullah and Pao Houa Lynn Lu | queeringborders: Tarik Elmoutawakil | Tara Fatehi Irani | guest post: Lisa Alexander | guest post: Burong interviews Zoran Todorović | guest posts: Instant Dissidence | Camille Barton | guest post: Áine Phillips interview s EL Putnam | The Center for Cultural Decontamination | Emmanuel Guillaud | Instant Dissidence. Final interview | There There | Season Butler | ; a place, of their own. (Paula McCloskey and Sam Vardy) | Diana Damian Martin | Boedi Widjaja | Filippos Tsitsopoulos | Pelin Başaran - Contact Theatre | Performing Religions - Translation Festival |  guest post: Karmadavis interviewed by Maria Cristina Fumagalli & Bridget Wooding (English/Spanish) | guest post: Najia Bagi | guest post: Hari Marini | Bojana Barltrop | Mary Paterson | Harun Morrison


Image credit: Season Butler at performingborders | LIVE 2019, Photo by Studio MaBa
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performingborders is a curatorial research-platform that explores the relations between Live Art and notions and lived experiences of cultural, juridical, racial, gendered, class, physical, and everyday borders. performingborders is disseminated as a conversation-based research-blog hosting interviews and guest posts and series of related events and artist commissions which interrogate the practices of international performers that are responding to challenging notions of contemporary borders.
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