Michaela Hall reviews a tantalising exhibition at the Tyneside Cinema
Slouched in a crisp white beanbag watching the introductory film to Oreet Ashery’s exhibition at the Tyneside Cinema, I found myself in a serene realm of other worldliness.
Watching the slow and transfixing bodily motions of the main feature in an abyss of the colour white, I realised I was very close to the screen itself. A very intimate setting of three beanbags a matter of inches away from the large plasma playing the film makes the exhibition immediately comforting, even though the film is quite indistinguishable in terms of time and place.
On entering the main gallery space however, this comfort is taken away. The film takes the form of a series of episodes and we are introduced to different conversations at more depth in each episode about a digital legacy after death. The conversations occur between a variety of participants representing sections of society; the male, the female, the transgender and in a group format. The film is diverse in terms of the conversations had. However, all of these conversations return back to what each participant will be remembered for, which is presented as the most significant issue of death. The focus of the camera dictates this significance when it skims past bodily expression as opposed to the digitally focused elements of the film.
For example, there is more emphasis on the iPad playing a video of a lifelike robot than there is on an artist fluidly dancing. There is a juxtaposing element of fear and pleasure to the work in that it is scarily confrontational about death but it is also pleasurable in the sense that humanity is diversely represented as important. There is also a focus on the female legacy throughout the film regarding the reference to the Guerilla Girls and the working conditions of females in the past from the M & S cake factory in Swindon. This domesticated legacy grounds the film and reminds us of the main ethos of the film, the idea that we are all important and deserve to be remembered, even if this is through spooky futuristic robots or death plans.