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BERLIN - May
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First solo museum show in Germany
Yto Barrada: Riffs
Deutsche Guggenheim - Berlin
until 19 June 
"Artist of the Year“ presents photographs, films and sculptures
BERLIN. FROM APRIL 15 to June 19, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin presents an exhibit of photographs, films, sculptures by the 2011 “Artist of the Year,” Yto Barrada. Riffs is Barrada’s first solo museum show in Germany; her past exhibitions include the Jeu de Paume in Paris and the Venice Biennale.

For more than a decade, Yto Barrada’s work has engaged with the social and political realities of North Africa. “After the Kenyan Wangechi Mutu last year, we have again selected an artist who is focusing on major questions of global society,” said Pierre de Weck, member of Deutsche Bank’s corporate management and chairman of the corporation’s “Global Art Advisory Council,” adding: “Yto Barrada’s work has always been visionary-and in the context of the recent historical changes in the region, feels even more topical. This is another reason why she is the ideal ‘Artist of the Year’.”

Barrada’s work revolves around life in her home city Tangier, Morocco, situated on the Strait of Gibraltar, and its particular situation, emblematic of the radical historical changes taking place in many North African countries. "I’ve always been attentive to what lies beneath the surface of public behavior,” says Yto Barrada. “In public, the oppressed accept their domination, but they always question their domination offstage. Subversive tactics, strategies of class contestation, forms of sabotage used by the poor - this is what I am most interested in.”

With the title of the show, “Riffs,” Barrada refers simultaneously to the musical term, to the Cinéma Rif, home of the Tangier Cinematheque, which she directs, and to the nearby Rif mountains, a stronghold of anti-colonial insurgency in Morocco.
Yto Barrada: Riffs was conceived by Friedhelm Hütte, Global Head of Deutsche Bank Art, and Marie Muracciole, freelance curator and art critic.

Catalogue
The accompanying catalogue with text contributions by Okwui Enwezor, Friedhelm Hütte, Marie Muracciole, and Daniel Soutif, as well as an interview with the artist conducted by Negar Azimi, is in English and German and available for 35 euros.
Edition As Deutsche Guggenheim Edition No. 55, Yto Barrada created the artist’s book, A Guide to Trees for Govenors and Gardeners (2011), exclusively available in a limited and signed edition of 350 + 25 A.P. copies in the Deutsche Guggenheim SHOP, +49 (0)30-20 20 93 -15/ -16

YTO BARRADA: RIFFS
Riffs is the first large-scale exhibition in Germany of the work of Yto Barrada, whose photographs, films, publications, installations and sculptures engage with the peculiar situation of her hometown of Tangier, Morocco. In her first series A Life Full of Holes: The Strait Project, ten years ago, Barrada evokes a Tangier where postcolonial history has materialized one of its dead-ends. Her recent project Iris Tingitana extends this inquiry to the fast-growing outer edges of the city, where the monocultural vision of planners and developers threaten to homogenize landscape and human lives.

The show, featuring selected works from these past series as well as new photos and films is conceived as a construction in 3-dimensional space and a deliberate juxtaposition of works. It plays on the varying distances between Barrada’s lens as a photographer and her subjects, and displays the full range media in which she works. The show’s title is inspired by music, where “Riff” stands for a rhythmic figure, a musical phrase that some players add to a written score. Riff relates also to the rugged Rif mountains of Morocco, home to insurgencies and a splinter Republic, and to the art deco Rif Cinema, which houses the Tangier Cinémathèque.

The three films, Beau Geste, Playground and Hand-Me- Downs, are also “riffing” -- rearticulating spaces, sounds, and meanings. One of the recurring figures of the show is that of the tree-- physical trees and family trees. Trees serve as metaphors of resistance and strength, of developing levels of vision, of generational transmission, of changing times, of shelter, regeneration and nutrition, but also of decor and tourism. Memory and obliviousness, history and unreliable narratives, as the details and fragmentation of every day life, are strongly involved in this show, and these themes are refracted between the pieces. The visitor, also, changes perspectives and levels -- by mounting a mezzanine; moving from intimate projection spaces to a balcony that overlooks large walls of photos; sitting down in a screening room to watch the cinema program, presented by the Cinémathèque.

Yto Barrada grew up between Tangier and Paris, where she studied history and political science at the Sorbonne, and subsequently attended the International Center of Photography in New York. Her practice, combining the strategies of documentary with a more meditative approach to images, drove her to return home after sixteen years abroad. Now based in Tangier, she continues to engage the complex realities around her, avoiding the rigidity of any ideological discourse, and without recourse to the spectacular or melodramatic. Another of Barrada’s responses to the dynamics of the region was to co-found the Cinémathèque de Tanger, North Africa's first cinema cultural center, which she now directs. The Cinémathèque’s film programs, workshops, archive, and traveling presentations are another investment in the unique status of images and representations in the contemporary Arab world and beyond.
Yto Barrada . Film still from Hand-Me-Downs, 2011. DVD, color, sound. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut  For Hand-Me-Downs (c) Cinememoire.net

Yto Barrada . Film still from Hand-Me-Downs, 2011. DVD, color, sound. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut For Hand-Me-Downs (c) Cinememoire.net

Yto Barrada . Arbre généalogique (Family Tree), 2005. C-Print, 150 x 150 cm. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . Arbre généalogique (Family Tree), 2005. C-Print, 150 x 150 cm. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . Briques (Bricks), 2003/2011. C-Print, 150 x 150 cm. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . Briques (Bricks), 2003/2011. C-Print, 150 x 150 cm. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . La Cage aux singes (Monkey Cage), 2008/2011. C-Print, 125 x 125 cm. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . La Cage aux singes (Monkey Cage), 2008/2011. C-Print, 125 x 125 cm. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . Lyautey Unit Blocks, 2010. Wood and Paint, dimensions variable . © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . Lyautey Unit Blocks, 2010. Wood and Paint, dimensions variable . © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . (Raft in Strangler Figtree), 2005/2010. C-Print, 150 x 150 cm. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Yto Barrada . (Raft in Strangler Figtree), 2005/2010. C-Print, 150 x 150 cm. © Yto Barrada & Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut

Artist's Website

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About Yto Barrada
About Deutsche Guggenheim
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Wikipedia
May 2011