Yto Barrada | Morocco / France
Visual artist and filmmaker. The main topics of her sculptures, films and graphic works include Africa-Europe relations, particularly near geopolitical borders like the Strait of Gibraltar, and the urban reality of Tangiers, where she has lived and worked since 1999. The move to Morocco, her family’s native country, configures itself as a strategy of Barrada’s, both culturally — as founder and director of Cinémathèque de Tânger, which she has directed since 2003 — and artistically. Her connection with the city outlines a sort of cultural topography that displays an awareness of the nuances of postcolonial reality. She studied History and Political Sciences at Université Paris IV, Sorbonne, Paris, and continued her studies in Photography at the International Center of Photography, New York. She has been featured in numerous exhibitions at leading museums and art biennials, including New York’s New Museum; London’s Tate Modern; Paris’ Centre Georges Pompidou and Palais de Tokyo; the Istanbul Biennial, 2013; the 54th Venice Biennale, among others. In 2013, she had stints as a visiting researcher at the New York University (NYU), New York, and as guest professor at The Cooper Union for The Advancement of Science and Art, also in New York.
The photographic panel shows a generic idyllic landscape reminiscent of a vague and distant scenery of peace and tranquility. The piece, which is a portrait of the wallpaper in a café in Tangier, a Moroccan city 30 km off the Spanish coast, is part of Le Project du Détroit, in which the artist explores the Strait of Gibraltar as the landmark that separates Europe from Africa. According to Barrada, she intended to observe the imagery built on and around Tangier by European and Moroccans tourists, as well as other Africans interested in migrating to Europe. Wallpaper highlights the power of an imagery that reinforces the fiction of a calm life that awaits on the other side, putting real life at odds with the desire to belong to another reality.