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Yazid Oulab

Yazid Oulab (b. 1958, Sedrata, Algeria) is particularly interested in linking contemporary forms with spiritual traditions. Since Oulab’s art studies in Algiers and then Marseille in the 1980s, he has produced a multifaceted body of work that combines installations, sculptures and videos and through which he returns to the origins of writing, numbers, spirituality and religions.

His video Le Souffle du Récitant comme Signe (The Reciter’s Breath as a Sign, 2003), the first part of a trilogy dedicated to breath and rhythm, came from contemplating a thread of incense smoke rising into space. Voices reciting a sura stir the straight lines of the smoke and create elementary forms: random movements at first, then cursive volutes that resemble writing. This video work was inspired by a remark from Oulab on Sufi mysticism whereby poetry is the essential path for approaching the mysteries. The film, like a great part of the artist’s work, is also a quest for common or complementary roots between different peoples and unfolds like a meditation. ‘When we create a piece of work and fail to include the vibratory musical aspect, the work is dead, lifeless. Breath, vibration, that is life.’

In Percussion graphique (2004), the second instalment of a trilogy dedicated to breath and rhythm, the artist’s hand can be seen gradually covering – with the help of a carpenter’s pencil and in an erratic rhythm – a piece of paper with black lines. The meditative movement is accompanied by “Leï-la”, the chant sung by Sufis at vigils. Beyond its formal relevance, the artist’s work underlines the importance of “the political reflection on the embittered memory of Algeria and its relationship to its sup­pressed cultural and philosophical past”.

Artworks

  1. Yazid Oulab Le Souffle du récitant comme signe, 2003

    Projection vidéo couleur, son
    5 min 4 s
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 2006
    © Photogramme : Mudam Luxembourg

  1. Yazid Oulab Percussion graphique, 2004

    Projection vidéo couleur, son
    8 min 58 s
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 2006
    © Photogramme : Mudam Luxembourg

  1. Yazid Oulab Rythme, 2005

    Projection vidéo couleur, son
    5 min 16 s
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 2006
    © Photogramme : Mudam Luxembourg

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