Oreet Ashery is a London-based visual artist, working in performance, still and moving image, objects and writing, mainly in the context of post-identity and minority discourses, and continuously explores the participatory nature of events, situations and public platforms. Ashery is interested in the body and everyday life, presently around performances of western liberation; current and historical trajectories of political nakedness under the meshing of changing ideologies. Ashery explores eccentric performances, actions and speeches of fictional and real public figures in the realms of populist and trashy mediascapes, currently in relation to neo-orientalism and imagined nationhood.
Ashery exhibits, performs, intervenes and screens her work extensively in an international context. Public spaces have included the Liverpool Biennial, Venice Biennial, ZKM, Tate Modern, Brooklyn Museum, Pompidou Centre, Freud Museum and the National Review of Live Art. Context-responsive locations have included curators’ bedrooms in various cities, a men only religious celebration, Qualandia checkpoint and a derelict fishermen’s hut. Ashery is represented by the Other Gallery in Shanghai and Beijing. Ashery’s work has been discussed in numerous art, academic and cultural publications in many languages. 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 an honorary research fellow in the drama department at Queen Mary University London, and a lecturer in the art department in Goldsmiths.
The Novel of Nonel and Vovel's website
Bird la Bird (Dialogues)
Bird la Bird is a Show-woman and Mama of Bird Club, a Queer Lady cabaret night for 21st Century Marthas and Arthurs. Bird Club was hatched by Bird and Maria Rosa Young in 2006 as a comedy duo. Bird went on to organise Bird Pride, the UK’s first ever Femme presence at the annual Pride march. Bird Club in it’s current form aims to showcase queer femininity featuring feminist strippers on roller skates, political parody, pomo queer burlesque, sloganeering and brainwashing. The original Bird Club duo grace the cover of Femmes of Power by Ulrike Dahl and Del la Grace Volcano. She also stars in Fem by Campbell X. Bird favours collaboration to create multimedia spectacles straddling stand-up comedy and performance art. Bird uses satire and draws inspiration from a lexicon of Femme icons including Minnie Mouse, Marie Antoinette and the grand ladies of Northern soap operas. As well as performing Bird is a designer and works with illustrator Alexar Lazar to create spoof political campaigns and club memorabilia. Bird co-parents a show-dog Harvey Nicks who is a muse and inspiration to her.
Mel Brimfield is an artist working in film and live performance. The roots of her practice lie in her long-term commitment to devising support structures for the development and coherent presentation of interdisciplinary performance work. Operating as an independent curator and producer in the early part of her career, she devised projects ranging from gallery exhibitions, cabarets and performance festivals spanning several days, to radio and website broadcasts, book and CD publications, and short film productions and screenings for a variety of institutions and agencies. Between 2006/2008, she was Associate Producer at the Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, and also founded Brown Mountain College of the Performing Arts with Sally O’Reilly and Ben Roberts.
Brimfield continues to rope in the services of a diverse range of performers to realise her own complex productions. Much of her recent work is based on fictional landmark multi-part TV series This Is Performance Art, hosted by arts broadcasting figurehead Sir Francis Spalding (actor Tony Green) – a bitchy raconteur, bon viveur and national treasure modelled after Ned Sherrin and Kenneth Tynan. An ongoing succession of exhibitions and large-scale live works accompany the release of each new episode, the first supported by a residency at Camden Arts Centre in 2011 and a solo show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2011.
Brimfield is a Cocheme fellow at Byam Shaw (Central St Martins), and is represented by Ceri Hand Gallery.
Stuart Comer (Film Programme)
Amy Lamé (Dialogues)
Amy Lamé is a writer, performer, tv and radio presenter, nightclub hostess, former model and chubby glamourpuss. Her first ever one woman show, Gay Man Trapped in a Lesbian's Body, debuted at the ICA in 1994 thanks to a big thumbs up from Lois Keidan. In the audience at Amy's first ever stage performance was a BBC television producer, who on the spot offered her a job as a presenter. Her flirtation with live art performance was brief, and Amy went on to present and appear in a myriad of mainstream TV programmes, including BBC2's Gaytime TV, Celebrity Fit Club, Loose Women, Daily Politics and Market Kitchen. She also worked extensively as a photographic model. In 1995 Amy co-founded the pop performance club and collective Duckie, and continues to perform at and host the club every Saturday night at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. She can be heard on the radio airwaves every afternoon 3-5 pm on BBC London 94.9 and her occasional travel and foodie features appear in The Times. She is currently writing a book on style. Her last one woman show, Amy Lamé's Mama Cass Family Singers, was produced by the Soho Theatre, debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has toured the UK and Australia. Amy is currently serving as the Mayoress of the Borough of Camden. She lives in Bloomsbury, the rightful home of all bookish lesbians.
Carmelita Tropicana (Dialogues)
Alina Troyano (aka Carmelita Tropicana) is a Cuban born performance artist, playwright, actor. Tropicana first burst on New York’s downtown performing arts scene in the eighties with her performance of Chicken Sushi where she appeared as Carmelita, “a Carmen Miranda cloaked in dangerous fruits.” Her thespian proclivities flourished at the WOW café, with Memorias de la Revolucion, a campy satire written with director Uzi Parnes, and an all star cast of WOW women playing male and female roles including her own archetypal Latin macho Pingalito Betancourt. While Pingalito has lectured on Puritan Ethics and the Bonobos at the Whitney Museum symposium on Lesbian Genders and the Constructivist Movement at El Museo del Barrio, Carmelita has given her Performance Art Manifesto, an homage to the legendary Jack Smith at Performance Space 122, and created The Box, a memorial to dead pets after Nayland Blake’s retrospective at Location One gallery. Tropicana’s preoccupation with history and who writes it has led her to expand her female, male repertory to a comprehensive menagerie. With What Ass Does the Cockroach Sit? takes the saga of Elian Gonzalez, a shipwrecked Cuban boy, to discuss Cuban politics using a cockroach as the narrator. Milk of Amnesia deals with assimilation, cultural loss and Cuba’s colonial history and it is Hernando Cortez’ horse who gets to tell his “horsetory.” Her film with director Ela Troyano, has in its title her cri de couer: Your Kunst is Your Waffen – Art is your weapon.
Ben Walters is cabaret editor of Time Out London and creator of BURN, the platform for moving images by cabaret artists. As a film and television critic, Ben has written books about Orson Welles, The Office (BFI TV Classics) and, with JM Tyree, The Big Lebowski (BFI Film Classics). He has also programmed seasons on Bernard Herrmann and the Coen brothers for the National Film Theatre and presented research on Orson Welles’s television work to the Film and Education Research Academy at Columbia University, New York. He remains a regular contributor to Film Quarterly, Sight & Sound, the Guardian, BBC Radio and Time Out, where he was deputy film editor from 2005 to 2007. While based in New York from 2007 to 2009, Ben wrote about the work of the Kuchar brothers, Kenneth Anger, John Waters, Quentin Crisp and Penny Arcade, as well as Joe E Jeffreys’ Drag Show Video Vérité archival project. As Time Out London’s current cabaret editor, Ben is particularly interested in the collaboration between performers and audience on which cabaret depends. He has co-produced events for Time Out Live including Alternative Eurovision and Art or Bust? The Great Burlesque Debate. In 2010, Ben created BURN, which has showcased film, video and video-interactive live work by many of London’s leading cabaret artists. He holds a BA in English from Trinity College, Cambridge, an MA in the history of film and visual media from Birkbeck College, University of London, and an MA in arts journalism from the Journalism School at Columbia University, New York.
Lois Weaver (Dialogues)
Lois Weaver was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and has made a career from her escape from, and reclamation of, her working class roots. In 1973 Lois decided theatre was a ‘luxury of the middle class’ and left the Blue Ridge mountains to pursue peace and social justice. She moved to NYC and helped co-found Spiderwoman Theatre, a company comprised of Native American, African American and white working class women who came together to weave stories of domestic violence, personal humor and romantic fantasy into 1970’s feminist theatre. In 1980, with her partner Peggy Shaw, she organized the Women’s One World Festival which later became WOW, a women’s performance space in NYC. At the same time, Weaver and Shaw, along with Deb Margolin founded their own theatre company, Split Britches, which created almost a dozen pieces including Little Women, the Tragedy, Lesbians Who Kill and Upwardly Mobile Home, a piece that looked at artists’ survival during the Reagan-Thatcher era and in which Weaver began developing her persona Tammy Whynot, a failed country western singer turned lesbian performance artist. Weaver is now Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice at Queen Mary University of London. She continues to expand her socially engaged practice through projects like Staging Human Rights an initiative that uses performance practice to explore human rights in women’s prisons in Brazil and the UK; Air Project, a Queen Mary based project that supports artists within higher education institutions by producing an annual festival for established artists (Outside Air); a platform for emerging live artists (Fresh Air) in collaboration with the Live Art Development Agency and a training infrastructure for emerging independent artists and producers (Air Supply) and What Tammy Needs to Know about Getting Old and Having Sex, a performance research project on women, sex and aging. Tammy WhyNot has become more than a character in a 1984 performance, she is Lois’s long term partner serving as mistress of ceremonies, traveling companion, tour guide and research associate.