In the majority of her recent exhibitions, the interventions by Lydia Ourahmane (1992, Saïda, Algeria) have been scarce, almost imperceptible. The artist's goal seems to be to make the visitor doubt what they are seeing or hearing, or even whether there is in fact something there to be seen or heard. In Solar Cry (2020), for example, she installed inside a wooden wall a series of speakers, which reproduced the sound of silence, recorded in a remote cave in the Tassili n'Ajjer plateau, in the Algerian Sahara. Despite being inaudible, the recording became perceptible through the vibrations it produced, which were amplified by the wood. A similar strategy underlies the decision to insert lead capsules into bronze molds of her body (bronze belly I-IV, 2019), which, little by little, are thus transformed by decay from within, in a process that is lengthy and almost entirely invisible. It is not by chance that one of the most recurrent concepts in critical writing about Ourahmane's work is that of faith, of the predisposition to believe in the existence of something that cannot be seen or proven. If, on the one hand, this concept helps understanding the artist’s universe as poetic and vibrant, characterized by opacity and the impossibility of explaining and making explicit all the aspects of a work, it also allows for a connection with her biography, and with the political implications of her practice.
Raised in England, the artist recently returned to live in Algeria, where she spent most of her early years during the explosive context of a civil war (1991-2002). In fact, in another aspect of Ourahmane's work, critical reflection on the dramatic reality of her country of origin becomes more direct, and in some cases is intertwined with her biography and even with her own body, which today bears the marks of an intense commitment to artistic creation: for example, a tooth implanted for In the absence of our mothers (2015-18).
Support: British Council
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).