Lydia Ourahmane's Testimonial

For me, the award was not simply a financial support, but supportive in the sense that it acknowledged my work and efforts which sometimes are so unbelievably alienating in the process of producing.

Receiving the Arts Foundation Fellowship Award in 2018 was crucial in my being able to regain access to my independence as an artist. Looking back on that period of time, I had spent most of 2017 working on 2 important commissions which disabled me from being able to work alongside producing work. I spent many months working in Algeria and although I was supported throughout the production of the commission for the Chisenhale show I of course had other costs, which turned to debt if I must be honest – which through the generous support of this award I was able to pay back with some of the amount awarded.

I remember being at the award ceremony, 2 days after the show opened at Chisenhale Gallery. Already overwhelmed with the events in the previous days. For me, the award was not simply a financial support, but supportive in the sense that it acknowledged my work and efforts which sometimes are so unbelievably alienating in the process of producing. I am sure this is true to many many artists working today, that the importance in financial recognition for work enables work to continue, quite literally. Especially when work is not quickly or easily produced, re-produced or marketable.

I do not work with a gallery so my relationships with collectors are personal and limited to those who I feel I can share the work with, due to the nature of my practice, the work is inexplicably linked to the experiences of my past and present which continues as a shared experience. And with the support of this award, I was able to continue to work during the busiest period of my career without financial anxiety which was a liberation I had not had the luxury of previously.

Throughout the Art Foundation Fellowship 2018 I had exhibitions at; Chisenhale Gallery (London), New Museum (New York), Kunstverein Munchen (Munich), MMAG Foundation (Amman), Kevin Space (Vienna), Manifesta 12 (Palermo), Jaou (Tunis), Jameel Arts Centre (Dubai). As well as artist talks/panels at Sothebys Institute, RCA, Goldsmiths (London), MMAG Foundation in Amman and the Goethe Institute in Paris. Alongside an extensive public program in relation to my exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery London.

The most important support to my artistic practice was that I was able to move back to Algeria in October 2018. Something I had been thinking about for the past 4 years but had not yet had the opportunity to do so. I moved to Algiers and was able to begin renting an apartment/studio and am now based here for the foreseeable future, which has been monumental both in my life and for my work. For the first time I feel that my body and my mind are in the same space and the freedom this has given me has already begun and will continue to shape the course of my practice.

Previously to this, and although my work develops around the in-betweenness of the two contexts I move between (Algeria and the UK) I felt at least now that it was important for me to be in Algeria. I am not 100% sure how to conclude why in words but I am sure it will become evident in my work. The past few months since being based in Algiers have been a significant period of growth, reflection and preparation.

And I cannot thank the Arts Foundation and the Yoma Sasburg Estate enough for this formative period which without the support of the fellowship would have been impossible.

I am currently working on a solo show which will take place at Bodega Gallery in New York (26th April – 23rd June), a group exhibition curated by Harry Woodlock and Norman Rosenthal at the Ca’Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice (12th October – 22nd March 2020), a residency and exhibition in Naples in November 2019 where I will be working on my first sculptures in bronze with Fondaria Nolana who are based in Naples, alongside research between the site of Pompeii and Vesuvius. I will also have a solo exhibition at the CCA Watts Institute of Contemporary Arts in San Francisco in early February 2020 working with Anthony Huberman.

Thank you