September 22, 2019 - Wellcome Collection - Dying Under Your Eyes
September 22, 2019

Wellcome Collection

Oreet Ashery, Dying Under Your Eyes (still). Courtesy Oreet Ashery.

Dying Under Your Eyes
A new film commission by Oreet Ashery
October 10, 2019–January 26, 2020

Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE
United Kingdom
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Wellcome Collection is pleased to announce Dying Under Your Eyes, a new 25 minute-long film by Oreet Ashery. This film will be shown for the first time as part of Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery: Misbehaving Bodies, at Wellcome Collection running until January 26, 2020.

Dying Under Your Eyes explores the sudden death of Ashery’s elderly father in 2018, focusing on ageing, dying, mourning and intimate surveillance. Merging depictions of everyday life with symbolic undertones, the film explores end of life care, ageing and intergenerational dynamics. It incorporates diaristic footage shot on the artist’s smartphone over the last seven years of her father’s life, alongside constructed scenes with apparitional figures.

The film narrates daily routines leading up to Ashery’s father’s fall and subsequent hospitalisation and her mother’s move into a care home after 70 years of them living together. The film shows Ashery’s increasingly frail father negotiating his immediate environment accompanied by a carer, often under the watchful eye of her mother. The film’s ethereal tone and music soundtrack evokes the charged and surreal atmosphere of looming grief and decline. Ashery’s family members, frequently appear throughout the film acting as guardian angels and representing the unconscious.

Ultimately, Dying Under Your Eyes, offers a tender family portrait. By turning the camera on her parents, Ashery—as a daughter and as an artist—subtly rewrites the family album and offers a frank story of ageing, dying and love. 

In this film, Ashery shows her father’s playfulness, potentially shadowed by dementia, while documenting her parent’s relationship through a series of intimate exchanges that often address the camera. Ashery uses the camera lens as a listening device that mediates, while the process of documentation becomes another of her forms of care. At points Ashery dresses up as her father, reenacting his fall and his newspaper reading, to embody, and perhaps, further empathise with him, attempting to process and make sense of recent histories.

Dying Under Your Eyes has been commissioned by Wellcome Collection and will be part of Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery: Misbehaving Bodies, a major exhibition which brings together two artists who explore the representation of chronic illness and experiences of care. Through their work, the exhibition foregrounds health diversity and challenges our understanding of “untypical” bodies, reflecting on how illness can disrupt and shape the way we think about the body, family and identity.

Jo Spence and Oreet Ashery: Misbehaving Bodies runs at Wellcome Collection from May 30, 2019 until January 26, 2020. It is curated by Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz and George Vasey and is accompanied by a programme of live events and discussions, developed in collaboration with Ashery.

The exhibition will be accompanied by Oreet Ashery’s forthcoming book, How we die is how we live only more so, published by Mousse. It includes writings by Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, TJ Demos, Imani Robinson, Mason Leaver Yap, Rizvana Bradley, and an interview between George Vasey and Ashery, and the full script of Ashery’s work Revisiting Genesis.


Related events

Dying Under Your Eyes
October 10, 7–8:30pm
Join Oreet Ashery for the public launch of her newly commissioned film.

Care and Survivance
October 31, 7–8:30pm
An inclusive Long Table discussion with contributions by artists and researchers

Death, Dying and Digital
November 7, 7–8:30pm
A discussion around narrative perspectives on death and mourning and how in online spaces.

How we die is how we live
December 5, 7–8:30pm
Readings and responses in celebration of Oreet Ashery’s forthcoming book.

Wellcome Collection
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