Commissioned by Kingston upon Thames’ Stanley Picker Gallery, Oreet Ashery‘s Revisiting Genesis takes the form of a web series in 12 episodes, released weekly from April 13. Written and directed by the artist, the video work explores the philosophical, sociopolitical, practical and emotional implications of withdrawal, digital afterlives and legacy, dying, social networks and reincarnations of women artists.
The online narrative, which begins with the first two episodes —‘The Slideshow, The Phone Call’, ‘DuckDuckGo Friendship’ —hosted by aqnb below, unfolds with every new episode. Revisiting Genesis follows two nurses, both named ‘Jackie’, who assist people preparing for death to create biographical slideshows serving as their posthumous digital legacy. The presentations become a tool for reflection on cultural and social loss, friendships, and memory as identity.
When a group of friends request this treatment for Genesis —an artist who is dying symbolically and otherwise —Nurse Jackie attempts to activate Genesis’ memory through the making of her slideshow, which draws from elements of Ashery’s own autobiography and explores the disappearance of social and educational structures under contemporary neoliberalism. Jackie concludes that it might not be Genesis who is vanishing, but the systems she had relied on. Presented in parallel with Genesis’ story, the 12 episodes are intercut with improvised interviews between individuals with life-limiting conditions and Nurse Jackie, played here by a practising GP.
A parallel story follows a patient called Bambi, played by artist Martin O’Brien, who has cystic fibrosis. Nurse Jackie introduces Bambi to the emerging ‘death online’ industries, and presses him to decide who will be his ‘digital legacy contact’ after he dies, and encourages him to write a ‘digital will’ that deals with his assets, which are intellectual rather than material. Jackie is particularly keen for Bambi to consider joining avatar research like LifeNaut’s Bina 48, or to explore the application of Augmented Reality in gravesites.
In one episode, the nurse discovers a bronze head by Gordine in Genesis’ possession. The nurse suggests that Genesis is a reincarnation of Gordine, as well as Amy Winehouse, and that her disappearance is due to an incomplete reincarnation cycle. This unravels Genesis’ feelings about being a semi-visible woman in the art world.
See the Revisiting Genesis website to follow the full series.**
Oreet Ashery’s Revisiting Genesis 12-part web-series, commissioned by London’s Stanley Picker Gallery, is running online from April 13 to July 29, 2016.
Header image: Oreet Ashery, Revisiting Genesis:’Banner Friend (George Hard) Over 50′ (2016). Video still. Courtesy the artist + Stanley Picker, London.