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Lydia Ourahmane: Tassili at SculptureCenter

Lydia Ourahmane’s works often begin as large, open-ended propositions that find the edges of possibility within the political, environmental, and metaphysical conditions in which she operates. Lydia Ourahmane: Tassili is an engagement with a remote desert, how and why one travels there, and the conditions of image production. Specifically it is about Tassili n’Ajjer, a largely inaccessible plateau near the border between southeastern Algeria and Libya that is host to thousands of prehistoric engravings and cave paintings that describe the transformation of life in the Sahara over thousands of years. Scenes of conflict and ritual submit to a drastically altered ecological landscape, once a fertile “bed of rivers,” as the translation of its name implies, and now an arid and inhospitable expanse of desert. Ourahmane and a group of collaborators traveled on foot through this region to produce a new moving image work, also titled Tassili, and to gather 3D scans that later informed a new sculpture. Sharpening the contradictions of pilgrimage, tourism, archaeology, and extraction, and the complexities of the artist’s own position as a visitor to the site, Ourahmane’s exhibition subsumes an encounter with a hypnotic array of this imagery—of ancient demons, extraterrestrials, and lost rivers and forests—while moving through a place that both collapses and measures the severity of time.

Ourahmane’s collaborators include Abdou Ali Aissa, Sophia Al-Maria, Berka Ayoub, Yuma Burgess, Alana Mejía González, Ahmed Hamid, Djamel Hamid, Moussa Hamid, Hiba Ismail, Ismail Machar, Moussa Machar, Mohammed, Idriss Machar, Jacob Oommen, and Isabel Valli.

The film is scored in four movements as an exquisite corpse by Nicolás Jaar, felicita, Yawning Portal, and Sega Bodega, with sound mastering by Joe Ware. It is edited by Robert Fox with cinematography by Alana Mejía González and Jacob Oommen, animation by Yuma Burgess, and color by Nadia Khairat. Production management by Khaled Bouzidi and Yanis Ouabadi. Research assistance by Sarah Ourahmane. Graphic design by Collin Fletcher. Special thanks to the Algerian Ministry of Culture and Arts and the Tassili n’Ajjer National Park.

Lydia Ourahmane (b. 1992, Saïda, Algeria) is an artist based in Algiers and Barcelona. Tassili is her first institutional solo exhibition in New York. Ourahmane’s practice spans spirituality, contemporary geopolitics, migration, and histories of colonialism. Recent solo exhibitions include: Survival in the afterlife, Portikus, Frankfurt, and De Appel, Amsterdam (2021); Barzakh, Kunsthalle Basel and Triangle—Astérides, Marseille (2021); Solar Cry, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2020); and The you in us, Chisenhale Gallery, London (2018). With collaborator Alex Ayed, she presented LAWS OF CONFUSION, Renaissance Society, Chicago (2021) and was included in Risquons-Tout, WIELS Contemporary Art Center, Brussels (2020).

The exhibition is curated by Kyle Dancewicz, Deputy Director, SculptureCenter.

Lydia Ourahmane’s new moving image work Tassili, 2022, is commissioned and produced by SculptureCenter, New York; rhizome, Algiers; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunis; Mercer Union, Toronto; and Nottingham Contemporary.

Lydia Ourahmane: Tassili is organized in partnership with B7L9 Art Station, Tunis, where it will travel in spring 2023. Presentations of Ourahmane’s video work are planned in partnership with Nottingham Contemporary (fall 2022); the Open Space program of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (fall 2022); Mercer Union, Toronto (fall 2022); and rhizome, Algiers (winter 2023).

Commissioning support for Lydia Ourahmane: Tassili is provided by VIA Art Fund.

Lydia Ourahmane’s new moving image work Tassili, 2022, is made possible by Valeria Napoleone XX SculptureCenter (VNXXSC).

Additional support for Lydia Ourahmane: Tassili is provided by the Kamel Lazaar Foundation and the Harpo Foundation. Research support was provided by Mophradat. In-kind exhibition support is provided by Genelec.

Leadership support of SculptureCenter’s exhibitions and programs is provided by Carol Bove, Lee Elliott and Robert K. Elliott, Jill and Peter Kraus, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Barbara and Andrew Gundlach, Jacques Louis Vidal, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Eleanor Heyman Propp, Libby and Adrian Ellis, Benoit Bosc and Torsten Schlauersbach, Jamie Singer Soros and Robert Soros, Candy and Michael Barasch, Sanford Biggers, Jane Hait and Justin Beal, and Amy and Sean Lyons.

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