Comprising installation, sculpture and sound, Ourahmane’s exhibition continues her ongoing engagement with the emotional, psychological and political charge of material and place.
For her exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery, Ourahmane explores immigration and displacement in relation to her personal history. Influenced by time spent living and working from her family home in Oran, Algeria, Ourahmane’s new body of work investigates transformation through sonic and sculptural registers.
Informed by personal encounters, Ourahmane’s work raises questions surrounding systems of exchange and dissemination. Recurring throughout Ourahmane’s work is the impulse to address acts of displacement, in which allegories of absence and removal evoke wider issues of place and migration. In The Third Choir (2014-15) the blunt physical presence of twenty used and empty oil barrels is of equal importance as the recorded process of their transport across international borders. Ourahmane’s installation All the way up to the Heavens and down to the depths of Hell (2017), exhibited as part of the 15th Istanbul Biennial presents a provisional concrete and steel structure, referencing the precarious nature of land and property rights. Visited intermittently by a solitary trumpet player’s eerie melody, the work reflects on environmental degradation and loss of public space.
Works within the exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery resonate through acts of cause and effect between materials, the audience and Ourahmane herself. Central to the show is a floor-based sound installation combining audio from field recordings made by Ourahmane whilst in Oran with sound scores composed and performed by the artist and her collaborators. A single gold tooth resides in the gallery space, while a duplicate gold tooth is implanted within Ourahmane’s mouth. This work is shown alongside documents referencing her grandfather’s resistance to military service under the French occupation of Algeria by extracting his own teeth. The archive also refers to the documents’ current use by his descendants to claim French citizenship by right of blood.
Explored through a non-linguistic approach to narrative – such as the use of deep listening and visceral engagement – Ourahmane implements both her own body and the body of the viewer to ask questions including, how is localised trauma felt on a collective level and how do forms of resilience and respite manifest? Explored in relation to Ourahmane’s subjectivity and political agency, this major body of work pursues lived experience as matter and as form.