Somewhere between a travelling cinema and theatre troupe, a kiss-a-gram and a takeaway delivery service, London-based artist Oreet Ashery’s Party for Freedom was an itinerant work combining live performance with moving-image and an original album soundtrack.
An invitation for self-organised gatherings to host and experience the work - anywhere from a sitting room and work place to public spaces and venues - it also appeared at venues across London including Millbank Media Centre at Millbank Tower and OrganicLea, a workers cooperative on the edge of the Lea Valley.
Party for Freedom was loosely based on Vladimir Mayakovsky’s 1921 play Mystery-Bouffe, telling the story of the Clean and the Unclean. It explored performances of liberation and political nakedness; and responded to the changing landscape of Dutch politics following the assassinations of controversial Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn in 2001 and film director Theo van Gogh in 2004, and the ensuing popularity of Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician and leader of the far-right Partij voor de Vrijheid [Party for Freedom].
Including newly commissioned punk, experimental and contemporary classical music by Finnish composer Timo-Juhani Kyllönen, all-girl post-punk band Woolf, and London-based musician Morgan Quaintance, the Party for Freedom moving-image work featured an irreverent array of characters and scenarios, developed through workshops and filmed in the lush setting of a 13th-century church in the English countryside. Questioning the currencies of perceived Western freedom, the work drew on trash aesthetics, leftist sentiments grounded in the 1960s and 1970s avant-garde, the hippy movement and far-right populist claims positing Islam and immigration as a threat.
Party for Freedom appeared at ticketed public London events exploring themes of the work. The project was launched with a live concert of the moving-image work with the original album soundtrack on May 1 at Millbank Media Centre, Millbank Tower. Members of the public also invited the Party to a large range of venues, residential and commercial.