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Lydia Ourahmane: Barzakh at S.M.A.K. Ghent

May 21–September 18, 2022

“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. After the lockdown of 2020, Lydia Ourahmane (b. 1992, Sada, Algeria) transported all of the belongings of her rented apartment in Algiers to Europe for her project. She was given an installation as her house because she was unable to travel back to Algeria due to the country’s borders being closed. It has the exact same floor space as the original living area and is set up virtually exactly the same. Ourahmane questions what home is in Barzakh, asking if it is a physical structure, our cherished goods, our memories of previous residences, or all of these things combined. The exhibition’s unique settings and the artist’s interventions change the installation’s contents into a complicated, delicate atmosphere.

Barzakh is a collaboration between @Triangle-Astérides, Centre d’art contemporain, Marseille, and Kunsthalle Basel. It was originally commissioned by Kunsthalle Basel. The third stop on the exhibition Barzakh’s voyage began in Basel in 2020 and ended in Gent, Marseille, and S.M.A.K. in 2021. New questions are constantly raised as meanings gradually or unexpectedly emerge between the three institutions, each with their own histories, identities, and audiences, the passage of time and its impact on the artist’s affective attachment to the objects on display, and the world whose constancy was slipping away.

Video, sound, performance, sculpture, and expansive installations that occasionally transcend outside the confines of the exhibition space are among the research-driven work by Lydia Ourahmane. They frequently start with things that happen in her personal life or with business dealings of all types. The tension between the experienced, personal story and the larger geopolitical, metaphysical, or technological environment in which history repeats itself is the setting in which the artist distills meaning. She focuses on how colonial tyranny and forced relocation leave physical imprints on people before becoming ingrained in the collective unconscious of a nation. This develops into a location from which history is recorded over time.

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).

Jan Hoetplein 1
9000 Ghent
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Saturday–Sunday 10am–6pm

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