Lydia Ourahmane: The you in us

Chisenhale Gallery presents The you in us, a major new commission and the first solo exhibition in an institution by artist Lydia Ourahmane. Comprising installation, sculpture and sound, Ourahmane’s exhibition continues her ongoing engagement with the emotional, psychological and political charge of material and place.

For her exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, Ourahmane explores immigration and displacement in relation to her personal history. Influenced by time spent living and working from her family home in Oran, Algeria, Ourahmane’s new body of work investigates transformation through sonic and sculptural registers.

Informed by personal encounters, Ourahmane’s work raises questions surrounding systems of exchange and dissemination. Recurring throughout Ourahmane’s work is the impulse to address acts of displacement, in which allegories of absence and removal evoke wider issues of place and migration. In The Third Choir (2014-15) the blunt physical presence of twenty used and empty oil barrels is of equal importance as the recorded process of their transport across international borders. Ourahmane’s installation All the way up to the Heavens and down to the depths of Hell (2017), exhibited as part of the 15th Istanbul Biennial presents a provisional concrete and steel structure, referencing the precarious nature of land and property rights. Visited intermittently by a solitary trumpet player’s eerie melody, the work reflects on environmental degradation and loss of public space.

Works within the exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery resonate through acts of cause and effect between materials, the audience and Ourahmane herself. Central to the show is a floor-based sound installation combining audio from field recordings made by Ourahmane whilst in Oran with sound scores composed and performed by the artist and her collaborators. A single gold tooth resides in the gallery space, while a duplicate gold tooth is implanted within Ourahmane’s mouth. This work is shown alongside documents referencing her grandfather’s resistance to military service under the French occupation of Algeria by extracting his own teeth. The archive also refers to the documents’ current use by his descendants to claim French citizenship by right of blood.

Explored through a non-linguistic approach to narrative – such as the use of deep listening and visceral engagement – Ourahmane implements both her own body and the body of the viewer to ask questions including, how is localised trauma felt on a collective level and how do forms of resilience and respite manifest? Explored in relation to Ourahmane’s subjectivity and political agency, this major body of work pursues lived experience as matter and as form. 

Lydia Ourahmane (b. 1992, Saϊda, Algeria) lives and works between London and Oran. Exhibitions include: Songs of Sabotage, 2018 New Museum Triennial, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (forthcoming 2018); a good neighbour, 15th Istanbul Biennial; How to Disappear Completely, Garage Rotterdam, Netherlands (all 2017); The end of the World, Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art, Italy; Social Calligraphies, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; that a body knows regardless, Interstate Projects, New York (all 2016); The Third Choir, Art Berlin Contemporary, Berlin; Territoires Arabes, Palais de La Culture, Algeria; (all 2015); and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2014). 

For more information, visit Chisenhale Gallery.

Lydia Ourahmane: The you in us
26 January – 25 March 2018

Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road
London E3 5QZ
United Kingdom
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday 12–6pm
T +44 20 8981 4518


Featured image: Lydia Ourahmane, The you in us, 2018. Commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Courtesy of the artist.


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