Supported using funding from Arts Council England
For spring 2018, Barbican Art Gallery has invited artist Yto Barrada to create her first major London commission for the Curve. Working across photography, film, sculpture, textile, installation and publications, Barrada explores the subversive tactics and strategies of resistance developed to deal with everything from the mundanities of everyday life to shifts in power and migration, often focusing on her native Morocco. Barrada traces the hidden transcripts of objects and people in her work, guiding us through the overlapping realities and fictions of their narratives.
Previous works include A Life Full of Holes: The Strait Project (1998-2004), which charts the harsh reality of life in and around the post-colonial city Tangier. This project addresses the complex history of the often-perilous migratory route crossing the Strait of Gibraltar – the narrow passage of water dividing Europe and Africa. Documenting the visual languages of the everyday to expose overarching structures of authority, Barrada’s projects interrogate ideas around colonialism, ethnography, archaeology, authenticity and myth-making. Hand-Me-Downs (2011) conveys the artist’s family history through a montage of strangers’ home movies from the 1960s. Barrada is attracted to the stories and performative tendencies of the bandit, the ‘faux’ guide, the magician, the underdog, the smuggler. More recent work has investigated the natural history and geology of North Africa, playfully charting the systems of classification as well as the fetishizing impulses in these fields. The fake fossil industry is the subject of the 2015 film Faux départ (False Start), which humorously follows the renegade practice of ‘preparators’ replacing the region’s export of dwindling archaeological finds with forged artefacts.
Unruly Objects (Suite for Thérèse Rivière) (2016) takes the forgotten figure of ethnologist Thérèse Rivière as its starting point; her collections of toys, audio recordings and drawings from Algeria’s colonial era provide fertile ground for Barrada’s own ‘recreation’ of her fieldwork. Barrada’s work responds to the potential for dissident forces in the world around her – whether at home, in the garden or on the street. The artist’s latest project The Sample Book (Vienna Secession, 2016) manifests her interest in Morocco’s textile industry and the traditional practice of natural dyeing. Echoing the process of textile production, Barrada views the many diverse threads of her practice as constantly interweaving.
Barrada is the founder of Cinémathèque de Tanger (2006-ongoing), a cultural centre that occupies a renovated 1930s cinema in Tangier, which aims to bring together the local community and make accessible the cinematic history of Morocco as well as international film. She was nominated for the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2016 and was named Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year in 2011.
Yto Barrada (Moroccan; b. 1971, Paris) lives and works in New York and Tangier.
Notes to Editors
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Barbican Art Gallery and The Curve
One of the leading art spaces in the UK, Barbican Art Gallery presents the best of international visual art with a dynamic mix of art, architecture, design, fashion and photography. From acclaimed architects to Turner prize-winning artists, the Gallery exhibits innovators of the 20th and 21st centuries: key players who have shaped developments and stimulated change. The Curve is dedicated to a vibrant programme of new commissions, created by leading international artists in direct response to this distinctive gallery space.
About the Barbican
A world-class arts and learning organisation, the Barbican pushes the boundaries of all major art forms including dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts. Its creative learning programme further underpins everything it does. Over 1.1 million people attend events annually, hundreds of artists and performers are featured, and more than 300 staff work onsite. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, The Pit, Cinemas One, Two and Three, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, foyers and public spaces, a library, Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse conservatory , conference facilities and three restaurants. The City of London Corporation is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre.
The Barbican is home to Resident Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra ; Associate Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra ; Associate Ensembles the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia , Associate Producer Serious , and Artistic Partner Create . Our Artistic Associates include Boy Blue Entertainment , Cheek by Jowl , Deborah Warner, Drum Works and Michael Clark Company . International Associates are Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam , New York Philharmonic , Los Angeles Philharmonic , Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig and Jazz at Lincoln Center .
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