Lydia Ourahmane

Lydia Ourahmane was born in Saïda, Algeria in 1992. She lives in London and works in the UK and in Algeria. Her artistic practice encompasses new media, video,  performance, sculpture, and found objects, exploring transitory forms of existence as well as surveillance and social and political structures. Lydia Ourahmane’s works address the ability of individuals to overcome the historic narratives in which they are grouped; many of them deal with the history of Algeria and its present.

The Third Choir (2014)

The Third Choir is a sound installation composed of twenty empty Naftal oil barrels exported from Algeria in 2014. Naftal, sold domestically in Algeria is a subsidiary of Sonatrach; which is the 2nd largest distributer of crude oil, petroleum and gas supplying to companies such as BP, Total and Chevron.

The objects convey a sense of the politics of immigration, by embodying the bureaucratic process of movement, geographically mimicking the same journey to Europe. They raise questions regarding their significance for social and political structures within Algeria, the coalitions of desire, and unrest that lead to the phenomenon of illegal immigration.

After 6 declined proposals for the export, The Third Choir became the first artwork to be legally exported from Algeria since the implementation of restrictions on the movement of art in 1962, after Algeria’s liberation from France, which was put in place to protect cultural property. This law was amended by section 75 of the Finance Act 2014 through the process of this work, and through the generous support of the Ministry of Culture.

Shown alongside a section of The Third Choir Archives, 934 documents involved in the process of exporting 20 empty oil barrels from Algeria to the UK.