Stone Witnesses
Yto Barrada at Secession

2016 is Yto Barrada's year. The artist took part in the Manifesta and the Marrakech Biennale, is on the shortlist for the illustrious Prix Duchamps, and has three exhibitions this fall. Apart from her exhibition at Secession in Vienna, the M Museum Leuven and The Power Plant in Toronto are showing a selection of her most recent works. Even back in 2011, when as Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” her exhibition Riffs was presented at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Barrada was regarded as one of the most interesting North African artists. Today she is an established name on the international art scene.

Since the beginning of her artistic career, Yto Barrada has dealt in depth with social realities in her home country Morocco. The coastal city Tangier serves as an experimental and research field for her photo and video installations, sculptures and interventions. She made a name for herself primarily through her photographic work, which uses the means of documentary photography to establish a completely new and unique kind of political art.

Barrada often devotes herself to themes such as smuggling, subversive appropriation of public spaces, and parallel economies. At the center of her current exhibition at Secession is the business with real and fake fossils. The essay film Faux Départ (False Start) from 2015 shows paleontological excavation sites and the “dinosaur tourism” in the region between the Atlas mountains and the Sahara desert. In this area, the remains of long-extinct animals are being dug up and prepared – and increasingly counterfeited. With empathy and fascination, Barrada’s film observes the work of “preparators”, who create these artifacts with remarkable skill and extensive knowledge. With their products they not only have to convince unsuspecting tourists, but also collectors. The artist shows the creativity that has been spawned by the precarious living conditions in this impoverished desert region.

Craftsmanship is a theme that has long interested the New York-based artist. At Secession, this is documented by a selection of her textile works. In several display cases, Barrada shows pattern books in which hundreds of fabric samples document her intense occupation with traditional dying techniques. Barrada’s experimental spirit is also reflected by her new photographic works made expressly for the exhibition. Now her documentary photos are supplemented by colored photograms, which, like the textile works, give her work a decidedly painterly element.


Yto Barrada
The Sample Book

Until 11/01/2016
Secession, Vienna

Yto Barrada
9/30/16 – 1/17/17
M - Museum Leuven

Yto Barrada
10/15/16 – 1/2/17
The Power Plant, Toronto