Lydia Ourahmane, The Third Choir, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

10 New Museum Triennial Artists in 10 Days: Lydia Ourahmane

GARAGE's seventh pick from the New Museum's periodic show uses rough-and-ready materials and objects to trace the gradual decay of social and political structures.

by Paddy Johnson
Feb 20 2018, 2:58pm

Lydia Ourahmane, The Third Choir, 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Since Younger than Jesus, its 2009 first installment, the New Museum Triennial has been a key date on the New York art-world calendar. As the city’s only recurring show devoted to international emerging artists, it provides an indispensable first look at the people and practices who will help define the field in years to come. 2018’s event, subtitled Songs for Sabotage, gathers thirty artists and collectives linked by their interest in disrupting the hierarchies of propaganda, power, control that shape our lives and cultures.

Continuing daily through this week, GARAGE introduces ten Triennial artists to watch.


There’s a good chance that at least one wall in the Triennial won’t last the duration of the show. Erected in an alcove of the John S. Wotowicz stairwell by Lydia Ourahmane (born 1992 in Saïda Algeria; based in London, UK), Finitude (2018) is a crumbling stucco-covered barrier that seems to emit a low hum. For now, it’s just the plaster that’s flaking off as a result of the sonic vibrations, but the implication seems to be that, over time, more serious structural damage might result.

Ourahmane’s work relates to the artist’s larger project, which looks at the degradation of social and political structures, the history of migration in Algeria, and identity in a globalized world. The Third Choir (201415) uses empty oil barrels from an Algerian company as speaker housings, while her lecture The Third Choir Archive (201415) is her account of importing twenty oil barrels to the UK after having applied six times for customs clearance. Aesthetically, her works are usually spare: barrels in a room, sheets of metal on a wall, a spill, a coffee cup.

Ourahmane graduated from London’s Goldsmiths College in 2014, but she’s already making a splash. Her solo show The you in us opened at Chisenhale Gallery last month, and her work was also included in the 15th Istanbul Biennial and This is Your Replacement at Düsseldorf gallery Sies + Höke.

2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage is on view at the New Museum, New York, through May 27.

Lydia Ourahmane, Finitude, 2018. Courtesy of the artist
New Museum Triennial
Lydia Ourahmane