Akeroyd Collection


Lydia Ourahmane, Tassili, 2022

Tassili is the film component of a larger body of work and enquiry into a remote desert plateau called Tassili n’Ajjer near the border between south-eastern Algeria and Libya. It is also a film, that characteristically for Ourahmane, reveals as much about the process of obtaining such images as it does about the landscape they depict. Ourahmane and a group of collaborators travelled on foot through this region to produce this new moving image work, so as to gather scans that later informed a corresponding sculpture. Tassili n’Ajjer is host to important prehistoric engravings and cave paintings that describe the transformation of life in the Sahara over thousands of years, the earliest from between 8,000 and 6,000 BCE. Ourahmane’s film offers a visually immersive encounter with this landscape and its ancient imagery; animals, demons, extra-terrestrials, lost rivers and forests. For Ourahmane, making a film like this, in a contested region that has historically resisted such documentation, offers two central paradoxes that can be revealed in the task itself as well as in its presentation. Firstly, documenting the desert and a personal engagement with the spiritual and historic site using time-based media troubles a relationship with a site that already has a radically different conception of geological time and place.

Secondly, in an attempt to raise critical attention to related legacies of colonial oppression, the artist must re-tread paths of colonial-era archaeology and rely on local knowledge to support intellectual, spiritual and artistic objectives. This is a neo-colonial endeavour in itself and Ourahmane does not attempt to rise above such complicity but instead sits with the problematics and contradictions of such artistic and political positions. The film is vulnerable as a result and in this sense seductive in the way it locates us on this journey. Slow extended passages shot in first-person perspective take in striking landscapes at walking pace, aided by emotive electronic music. Ourahmane combines these point-of-view shots with static footage, sequences transferred from 16mm film, and night vision images which are edited into sequences with the sound. This produces a sense of oblique possibility, non-intrusive atmospherics of place that is able to contend with the inherent problems without assuming a colonising gaze.

The sound in Tassili is composed by Nicolás Jaar, felicita, Yawning Portal and Sega Bodega.

Medium4K video, 16mm transferred to video, digital animation, sound
Duration47 minutes 41 seconds
Editionof 5 + 1 AP