Emily Orley

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Maintain, Manu tenere, Hold in the Hand
With Katja Hilevaara                    
Sept 2015         

A performance at the Congruence and Contestation: Contemporary Feminism and Performance conference at Roehampton University organised by Sarah Gorman inspired by and in homage to Mierle Laderman Ukeles and her 1969 Manifesto for Maintenance Art. Ukeles asserts that the artist is also an activist, empowering people to act and change social values and norms.  In her manifesto she challenges the privileged and gendered notion of the independent artist and questions the often overlooked hierarchies of different forms of work, particularly housework and low-wage labour. She suggests that the ongoing mundane activities that can take up large parts of our daily lives, often in the service of others, can be seen as art and should be celebrated as such. It is possible to be a mother and artist at the same time. For one hour we sorted, folded and stacked a mountain of clean laundry while listening to and reading the testimonies of 30 people about the housework that they (don?t always) do.

In Ukeles' words:  I am an artist.  I am a woman.  I am a wife. I am a mother.  (Random order)... Maintenance is a drag; it takes all the fucking time (lit.) 
Between Land and Paper              

A series of performance-lectures experimenting with the idea that a page is a place to travel across and exploring what it means to record things for someone else to remember and then to forget. I have been working with a jumbled collection of memoirs and letters by my grandfather. Presented at a range of interdisciplinary events in London, Bristol, Paris and Lisbon. Most recently, I performed at the Claims and Contestations in Urban Cultural Heritage conference at the ESNA, Paris Val de Seine (December 2014) and the 2nd Global Conference on Letters and Letter-Writing in Lisbon (March 2015)

Making Making Matter                

A series of performances and performance-lectures with Katja Hilevaara which address the question of how to make the matter of making matter, so that it matters to you as much as to me. So that it matters to the Academy. So that what is made ( matter), even if it is unmade, matters as research.

When we first performed, at the 3rd International Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts at the Helsinki Theatre Academy,  we drew on the fact that the building used to be a soap factory (Kokos Oy). We scrubbed our hands, arms and faces with soap until the bar of soap disintegrated, making ourselves clean but leaving us with nothing more to show for it. We experimented with the making of a dialogue (with words, with paper, with clean hands), while dissolving matter (soap). In later versions of the performances (most recently at the Performing Dialectics symposium at Queen Mary University, January 15) we have explored the materiality of the paper we read and write on, examining how it is made, and in doing so questioning the hegemony of textualism and the pressure we are all under in the Academy to produce evermore outputs.

In The Emptiness Between Them     
Sept 2012  

A site-writing to accompany Ella Finer's sound installation in two volumes,This Is Where We Meet, at GALLERIE8, London.  Finer's work acoustically mapped the Arthaus building using her voice and the voices of others, and was presented as twelve sound boxes, each one a sonic document of the spaces she inhabited. Finer invited me to contribute a piece of writing in response to the work and I composed a Jane Rendell-esque site-writing in twelve acts that set out to creatively and critically engage with the installation.

[In the emptiness between for web.pdf]

photo© Kitty Walker

In Mercy for a Trespass             
with Elinor Brass
June 2012

An outdoor installation at Manor Farm heritage site in Ruislip, London, inspired by the history of the site, where there used to be a motte and bailey castle and manorial court, and made in collaboration with Elinor Brass and Constantine Gras. Situated where the moat used to be and made with willow branches sourced on-site, the work incorporated ceramics made by members of the local community. The phrase ?in mercy for a trespass? is taken directly from the administrative records of the court that used to operate on the site, when it was under the Abbot of Bec in the 13th century. Citizens would have to pay taxes to the Lord or Abbot in mercy for various sins and crimes they had committed, such as stealing, adultery and trespassing. The work played with the idea that members of the local community created objects with their own hands, as creative tithes for our own trespassing, as artists, on the land. It was intended that the installation would remain in place for a year, collecting rain water and gradually being swallowed up and eventually hidden by the surrounding brambles and grass: a kind of reverse archaeological dig. However the work was replaced after one month only when a local councillor complained that it was ugly. 



May 2011

A performance installation (Ozymandias) with Katja Hilevaara involving 7 buckets and 7 pyramids of sand. Part of a Shift: Gaps in Memory: Pop-up Performance at PSi#17, Camillo 2.0, Utrecht, directed by P.A. Skantze and Matthew Fink of Four-Second Decay. (photos© Julio Velasco)

Place as a remembering process 
with Katja Hilevaara
May 2011 

A performance lecture with Katja Hilevaara about making and breaking images in Utrecht, the Netherlands (PSi#17 international conference, Camillo 2.0)  Giulio Camillo?s Theatre of Memory can be seen as the epitome of a place that remembers, storing all knowledge in the form of images, for the individual spectator to engage with. We discussed his concept along with the writings of cultural geographer Doreen Massey, who defines place as a ?throwntogetherness?, a process that is contested and ever-changing. While drawing on these ideas we presented a staged dialogue that articulated and questioned our own working process and aesthetic. We  experimented with the dialogue format to demonstrate our practice in speech. With words. With images, that we evoked and then took apart. 

Meme 2 
with Elinor Brass

A second web-based dialogue with Elinor Brass in images, inspired by and grounded in the city.

A Methodology of Locks (Salt & Water)     
Dec 2010 & March 2011

A creative response, in collaboration with Ella Finer and P.A. Skantze, to current conditions (disaster) in which there is productive interaction between performer and performer and spectator and performer.  A call to arms/a call to imagination. Performed at the Sexuate Subjects: Politics, Poetics and Ethicsconference at UCL in December 2010 and again at the (Re)Branding Feminism conference hosted by the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, London in March 2011.

Into the Page
July 2010

A performance, a talk, an experiment in place-writing, as part of the -writing symposium at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. I began to explore what it means to view a piece of paper as a place by entering into a page of my grandfather's writing and travelling across it.

An Unravelling
with Ella Finer
February 2010 
A performance installation with words and wool. Part of i'm with you #2, MKII, London. The work began to consider how disentanglement or the un-making of a journey may play out in the briefest moment.  Part of an on-going conversation concerned with mappings of multiple female voices in both visual and aural space.

A Patina of Antique Filth
with Elinor Brass
October 2009     
"I had worn bad enough things before, but nothings at all like these; they were not merely dirty and shapeless, they had ? how is one to express it? ? a gracelessness, a patina of antique filth, quite different from mere shabbiness?"   
George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

A place-specific installation with a soundscape created in collaboration with Tim Dutton, as part of the Shunt Lounge, London Bridge. The work was inspired by the colourful history of the London Bridge area and Orwell's 1933 book Down and Out in Paris and London.

vory Towers  
With Katja Hilevaara
June 2009                         

A performance installation at the Easton Community Centre, Bristol. Part of the sixth You and Your Work Festival. A dining table was slowly and deliberately laid with an ever-increasing array of cutlery to create a small-scale but epic landscape. (Photos© Mel Shearsmith)

Cassandra Float Can
Directed by Four-Second Decay
February 2009                 

A one-off performance of Anne Carson's Cassandra Float Can in four voices, Roehampton University, London. Devised and directed by P.A. Skantze and Matthew Fink of Four-Second Decay.  


Meme 1
with Elinor Brass

A year-long web-based dialogue documenting the discovery and response to the new places in which we found ourselves after moves to opposite ends of London.

with Katja Hilevaara
November 2008                              

A site-specific performance installation at the Resistance Gallery, London. Part of the fourth my site | in space curated by Switch Performance Comapny. The gallery, underneath the railway arches in Bethnal Green and not far from where Jack the Ripper's victim's were discovered, is thought to have been the site of an opium den and later an air raid shelter. For the installation a track made from knives and nuts spelt out a rhythmic message in Morse code.  



 I long for you I long for you I long for you I long for you     

photos© James Shilland

National Service/Esperanto
with Ernst Fisher, P.A. Skantze and Matthew Fink
Oct 2008            

A performance installation at the Chelsea Theatre, London. (Also performed at PSI 14 conference in Copenhagen, August 2008.) Miniature landscapes - scenarios of catastrophe and creation, love and loss among the world’s nations – moved across the space on six free-standing butler trays. This was a performance which constantly made and unmade itself, creating images using dust, sand, model figures, domestic utensils, comestibles and international kitsch. 



photos© Matthew Fink

with Katja Hilevaara
June 2008                            

A performance installation with mirrors, torches and a hammer, involving the making and breaking of a series of images in response to the myth of Narcissus and Echo. Shunt Lounge, London.


photos© Elinor Brass

Hampstead Road
with Elinor Brass
April 2008

An immersive installation inspired by the history of the site of the Camden People's Theatre. It involved five hundred found objects, suspended, whitened, and scattered across the space. Suspended, as if in water. Whitened, as if petrified over time, washed-out by age, by use, by neglect, by forgetting. Colourless litter, archaeological remains, a constellation of accumulated history. Sound by Tim Dutton.

     'Hauntingly beautiful and calm ... visually arresting'. Andrea Ioannou

Arts Hub, 30 April, 2008 (Read full review)


with Katja Hilevaara
October 2007                              

A performance installation at the Green Room, Manchester (part of the Emergency platform for live art) which involved a fleet of teaspoons making their way across the café bar, only to disappear minutes later.


with Katja Hilevaara
October 2007                                

A site-specific performance installation tracing puddles with electrical tape. Shunt Vaults, London. 


photos© Juliette Humble

States of Ignorance
with Elinor Brass
August 2007             
Photographs of a small-scale site-specific installation exploring the history of  the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London. Commissioned by and exhibited at Execution Ltd, 91 Brick Lane.

Traces of Mr Shillibeer 
with Elinor Brass
June 2007            

Photographs of a small-scale site-specific installation exploring the history of the Pleasance Theatre, London. Exhibited on site.


The Way to Be Rich 
with Elinor Brass
Jan 2007                      

Photographs of a small-scale site-specific installation exploring the history of the Mayfair Library, London. Exhibited on site.


'"You are here," insist the arrows on maps and guides. How many of us really are?'  

Lucy Lippard