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Lydia Ourahmane

The you in us
26 January – 25 March 2018

Opening: Thursday 25 January 2018, 6.30 – 8.30pm


Chisenhale Gallery presents The you in us, a new commission and the first solo exhibition in an institution by London and Oran-based 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. 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. Influenced by time spent living and working from her family home in Oran, Algeria, Ourahmane’s exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery investigates transformation through sonic and sculptural registers.

Works within the exhibition resonate through acts of cause and effect between materials, the audience and Ourahmane herself. Central to the show is a new sound work, Paradis (2018), which is embedded within, and amplified from a temporary wooden floor installed throughout the gallery. This work combines audio from field recordings made by Ourahmane whilst in Oran with sound scores composed and performed by the artist and her collaborators.

In the Absence of our Mothers (2015-18) consists of a single gold tooth, which resides in the gallery space, and a duplicate gold tooth that is implanted within Ourahmane’s mouth. This work is shown alongside documents referencing Ourahmane’s 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. Heavy silver doors, treated black with sulphur, mark the entrance to the gallery. Over the duration of the exhibition, as visitors and gallery staff interact with the doors by entering and exiting the space, the blackened surface slowly reverts back to silver.

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.

Acting as a companion to the sound installation Ourahmane has produced Paradis, 11.10.2017, 23:45 (2018), a moving image commission for Chisenhale Gallery’s website. Ourahmane recorded the silent video on her phone in Paradis Plage, Oran, during a production trip in October 2017. To watch the video, please click here. Ourahmane has also produced a new edition comprising 13 hand printed photographs. Displayed in the gallery’s front of house, each photograph references the spaces Ourahmane was working within while developing this new commission. 

As part of the commissioning process, a programme of discursive events has been devised in collaboration with Ourahmane, including talks at the gallery and offsite events at local schools and partner organisations. Ourahmane’s exhibition commences Chisenhale Gallery’s programme for 2018, which includes major new commissions by artists Paul Maheke, Banu Cennetoğlu and Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Through her work, Ourahmane raises complex questions concerning the effects of geographic boarders on bodies and how systems of governance influence everyday experience, themes which recur throughout Chisenhale Gallery’s programme for 2018.

Lydia Ourahmane (b. 1992, Saϊda, Algeria) lives and works between London and Oran. Exhibitions include 2018 New Museum Triennial: Songs for Sabotage, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (forthcoming 2018); a good neighbour, 15th Istanbul Biennial (2017); Social Calligraphies, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (2016); and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2014).

Lydia Ourahmane’s exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery is supported by the Arab Foundation for Arts and Culture (AFAC); Mophradat Aisbl Grants for Artists; Joe and Marie Donnelly; and Nicoletta Fiorucci, founder of the Fiorucci Art Trust. With additional support from the Lydia Ourahmane Supporters Circle. With special thanks to Weber Industries.

Chisenhale Gallery’s Commissions Programme 2017-19 is supported by the LUMA Foundation.  

Chisenhale Gallery’s Curatorial Trainee Programme 2016-18 is supported by Sirine and Ahmad Abu Ghazaleh.


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