An artist at ease on any medium, even lithium

Last name: Lydia Ourahmane

Age: 30

Hometown: Saida, Algeria

Currently lives: In a two-bedroom apartment in Barcelona

Fame claim: Ms. Ourahmane is an Algerian-British artist known for her sprawling installations that defy geopolitical boundaries. A recent work, “Barzakh”, (meaning “separation” or “a barrier between two things” in Arabic) recreated his former apartment in Algeria. This involved moving 5,000 personal effects, including chandeliers and clothing, to the Kunsthalle Basel gallery in Switzerland, as well as to the Triangle—Astérides in Marseille, France. Frieze magazine named the show one of the best of 2021. “I’m interested in the politics around how objects move around the world,” Ms. Ourahmane said.

Big cut: Born in 1992 to an Algerian father and a Malaysian mother, Ms. Ourahmane grew up in Algeria during a period of social and political upheaval, before settling in London in 2001. Art consumed her at a young age. “I started skipping my business and English classes to hide in the art department a block away,” she said. She studied art at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she created a sound installation, “The Third Choir”, made from 20 empty oil barrels from Algeria. It was considered the first work of art to be legally exported from Algeria in the 52 years since the country gained independence from French colonial rule.

Last project: Ms. Ourahmane’s traveling installation ‘Barzakh’ arrives at the SMAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent, Belgium on May 21. So how does it feel to have gallery visitors snooping around your belongings? “There’s nothing in my life that I’m really ashamed of, because my life is pure,” she said.

Next thing: Ms. Ourahmane will install an as yet untitled sculpture at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin in October. “It’s too premature to talk about it at this point, other than the fact that we’ve had discussions about the impossibility of permanency,” she said.

Safety at work: For a recent exhibition at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, Ms. Ourahmane collaborated with French artist Alex Ayed on a multimedia installation that included, among other things, an ultrasonic audio jammer and raw lithium exported from Lithuania, suspended in oil and safely sealed in its plastic packaging. origin. Before handling the dangerous metal, Ms. Ourahmane sought advice from chemists at the University of Chicago. “We were interested in the potential and the impossibility of the material itself,” she said.

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