What is dead, what do we let die: An evening of readings

March 2022

An evening of readings by artists and writers, as part of the public programme for Every Ocean Hughes’ One Big Bag. This event focused on the subjects of Hughes’ film, responding to different approaches to mutual aid and kinship, and exploring both personal and oblique understandings of death’s ritual, political and poetic dimensions. Contributions by Adam Farah, Jasmine Johnson (with Loz Chandler), Imani Mason Jordan, Edward Thomasson (and Adrian Quinton) and Abbas Zahedi, with an additional text authored and selected by Oreet Ashery.

  1. Oreet Ashery is an interdisciplinary visual artist with an unorthodox, multi-layered and eclectic practice spanning photography, moving image, mass-produced and unique artefacts, text, music, workshops and performance. Ashery’s work confronts ideological, social and gender constructions within the fabric of personal and broader contemporary realities. Her award-winning miniseries ‘Revisiting Genesis’ (2016) explored some of the philosophical, sociopolitical, practical and emotional implications of the processes surrounding death, particularly in relation to digital legacies and the importance of friendships. As part of this event, an extract from her book How We Die Is How We Live Only More So (Mousse, 2020) was read by Imani Mason Jordan.

    In 2020 she was awarded a Turner Prize Bursary, and in 2017 she won the 10th Jarman Film Award. Her many solo exhibitions and presentations include the Wellcome Collection, London (2019–20); Centre of Contemporary Art, Prague (2019); Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2018); and the Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston (2016).

  2. Adam Farah is an artist, sauce-maker and bootleg archivist born and based in London. Working in a wide range of media and performative gestures — from sculpture, video and sound to walking, cruising and microdosing — Farah’s aesthetic is situated within various ephemeral and poetic moments, which personally reflect on the social structures of their youth and generational influences.

    Recent solo and group exhibitions have included: WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM YOU AND MYSELF (PEAK MOMENTATIONS / INSIDE MY VELVET ROPE MIX), Camden Arts Centre, 2021; New Views on Same-Olds, Exhibition Space of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, 2020 (Group); Brent Biennale 2020 / LUX Artist Moving Image Commission, London, 2020; and Praise N Pay It / Pull Up, Come Into The Rise, South London Gallery, 2018.

    Farah also works under and within the name free.yard — an ongoing project set up to engage with and merge curatorial, research, artistic and equitable communal practices.

  3. Jasmine Johnson works with people, recording words, objects and day-to-day activities. Drawings, videos and performances have been motivated by admiration, education, longing, searching for alternative worlds which could emerge through connection. Contexts, which in turn, become material for Johnson to work with and through, forming a series of intimate portrayals associated with broader societal issues — such as love, addiction, and belongingness. 

    Over recent years their works have been presented at: Drawing Room, Barbican, Almanac, Jerwood, ICA, Know Wave Radio, Tulca Galway, CAC Vilnius, Place des Arts Montreal, Devos Museum Michigan. They work as a lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and are currently undertaking a practice-led DPhil at Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

    Loz Chandler is an actor and musician based in London

  4. Imani Mason Jordan is an interdisciplinary writer, artist, editor and curator. They are one half of the artistic and curatorial collaboration Languid Hands, who are the current Curatorial Fellows at Cubitt (2020–2) and curators of the LIVE programme for FRIEZE 2021. Imani’s research-led practice combines live art and performance, oration, collaboration, poetry and critical theory, exploring themes of black geographies, the afterlives of transatlantic slavery, abolition, radical resistance and the politics of safety.

    Recent projects include: ATLANTIC RAILTON: LIVE with Ain Bailey, a live extension of Bailey’s new sound work, Atlantic Railton, presented at Serpentine Pavilion, London, 2021; THIS WORLD MAKES US SICK with Raisa Kabir, D Mortimer, and SWARM, Curated by bare minimum for ICA, London, 2021 (a night of readings and reflections about illness, work, care, love and doing nothing); and Dying Declarations, featured in Oreet Ashery’s HOW WE DIE IS HOW WE LIVE ONLY MORE SO, Mousse Publishing, 2019.

  5. Edward Thomasson is an artist who makes plays, performances, videos and drawings about the complexity of social and sexual interaction. Often collaborating with groups of trained and untrained performers, his performance and video work employ song, dance, and dialogue to describe the ways we come together to try to understand each other and build relationships.

    Solo and group exhibitions include: Find a Problem to Solve, Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, Zurich, 2019 (Part of United by Aids — an exhibition about loss, remembrance, activism and art in response to HIV/AIDS); I Woke Up This Morning, Studio Voltaire, London and Focal Point Gallery, Southend, 2019; and Together, Art Now Series, Tate Britain, London, 2017 (with Lucy Beech).

    For this event, Thomasson was joined by his friend Adrian Quinton.

  6. Abbas Zahedi’s interdisciplinary practice blends contemporary philosophy, poetics, and social dynamics with sound, sculpture, and other performative media.  With an emphasis on how personal and collective histories interweave, Zahedi makes connections whenever possible with people involved in the particular situations upon which he focuses. It is through careful gestures that Zahedi’s practice is enunciated. 

    In his ongoing practice, Zahedi has created social projects with collaborators and audiences, often involving spiritual rituals. Solo exhibitions and commissions have included ​​11 & 1, Belmacz, London 2021; Brick Lane Foundation, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2021; Ouranophobia SW3, Chelsea Sorting Office, 2020; How To Make A How From A Why?, Fire Station, 2020; and Soul Refresher, Brent Biennial, London Borough of Culture 2020.

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