Lydia Ourahmane Barzakh


“Barzakh” means “limbo” in Arabic, but also refers to the state in between life and death, a realm in which a spirit waits but also a physical place that offers relief. For her project, Lydia Ourahmane (b. 1992, Saïda, Algeria) moved the entire contents of her rented flat in Algiers to Europe after the lockdown of 2020. Unable to return to Algeria because of the closing of the country borders, she had her home brought to her in the form of an installation. It occupies an identical surface area to the original living space and is arranged almost exactly the same way. In “Barzakh” Ourahmane queries the meaning of ‘home’ and asks herself if it is a building, our familiar possessions, the memories of places in which we have lived, or all these things and more?

In the exhibition, the specific circumstances and the artist’s interventions transform the contents of the installation into a complex, fragile environment. New questions constantly arise while meanings are slowly or unexpectedly released.

Lydia Ourahmane’s research-driven projects include video, sound, performance, sculpture and large-scale installations that sometimes extend beyond the walls of the exhibition space. They often begin with events in her personal surroundings or with transactions from very different kinds. The artist distils meaning within the field of tension between the lived, individual story and the broad, geopolitical, metaphysical or technological context in which histories repeat themselves. She thereby focuses on the way in which forced displacement and colonial oppression inscribe themselves in individual bodies before settling into the subconscious of an entire population. Over time, this becomes a place from which history is written.

Lydia Ourahmane lives and works in Algiers and Barcelona. Recent solo exhibitions include The Sculpture Center, New York, NY (2022), Portikus, Frankfurt (2022), De Appel, Amsterdam (2021), @Triangle-Astérides, Centre d’art contemporain, Marseille (2021), Kunsthalle Basel (2021), CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CA (2020) and Chisenhale Gallery (2018) amongst others. Her work has also been shown in the 34th São Paulo Biennial (2021), Manifesta and the New Museum Triennial (2018). With fellow artist Alex Ayed, she exhibited at the Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL (2021) and WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2020).

“Barzakh” was commissioned by Kunsthalle Basel and is a co-production of Kunsthalle Basel and @Triangle-Astérides, Centre d’art contemporain, Marseille. S.M.A.K. is the third stage in a journey that saw “Barzakh” travel from Basel to Marseille and then to Gent.

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