Published on Tuesday, April 26th.
“Juxtaposition” is the way in which Yto Barrada (Paris, 1971), just named Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year 2011, works through different techniques, excavating all the possibilities and forms of various mediums, to reach the most important goal of her research: to bring to the surface the complex relationship between her city, Tangier, in Morocco, and its inhabitants who spend their lives looking for and across the Mediterranean sea. The “west side of the moon” gives their dreams a new face, especially in this moment, after the recent, serious revolts in North Africa, the jasmine revolutions as the writer Tahar Ben Jalloun has called them. This show, named Riffs- like a rhythmic figure articulating the sounds- realized at the German Guggenheim in Berlin, offers a composite reconstruction of Barrada's artistic growth, divided among Paris, New York and now Tangier.
She was studying history and political science at the Sorbonne University in Paris, when she discovered that photographs were, "less restrictive than just my dissertation in political science, introducing the political situation”, as she said during an interview with Charlotte Collins, some years ago. At that time, it was 1998, she began to shoot everything around her, coming back to her country. These first pieces comprised the series dedicated to the borders of Tangier, located in a very strategic point for the Mediterranean history, the Strait of Gilbratar: this works became A Life Full of Holes: The Strait Project (1998–2004), published by Autograph ABP in 2006, now opening this German exhibition. A singular leit motiv crosses these photographs: all portrayed subjects are standing with their backs turned towards the observer. This is one of the main metaphors that Barrada wants to underline: “Spending most of the time on the edge, trying to get on the other side, it’s a consequence turning the backs on whatever's happening where you are, because you're not invested in what you're doing for your own country”.
The next series included in “Riffs” are the most recent artworks realized by the artist: Iris Tingitana (2007) deals with the special Moroccan environment mixed together with contrasts and restricted planners of the human lives forgotten in these places, and the last videos, Beau Geste (2009), Playground (2010) and Hand-Me-Downs (2011), represent a significant trilogy by Barrada symbolizing the development of the artistic and political point of view of the artist: it’s another step in her personal course, linked to the memory and the powerful meaning of an organic structure of her works. These films are “Three” whereas “Tree” is the main subject of these video installations.
We talked, at the beginning, about the “juxtaposition” characterizing Barrada’s research. In fact, she said: “It's not a narrative work, what I mean by juxtaposition. It's more like a sort of montage or more like a collage. What's closest to what I'm trying to do is "photomontage." Every element of this patchwork corresponds to a single voice of Tangier”.
serenella di marco
From April the 15th to June the 19th, 2011
Yto Barrada - Riffs
Deutsche Guggenheim Unter den Linden 13 / 15, 10117 Berlin-Mitte
Opening Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.;
Entrance: Free Entrance
Info: Phone +49 (0) 30-20 20 93-0