Yto Barrada, Arbre généalogique [Family Tree], 2005, chromogenic print, 59" x 59" (image and paper), 61" x 61" x 2–1/4" (frame), from an edition of 5 with 2 APs © Yto Barrada

Yto Barrada

Yto Barrada Portrait

Photograph by Benoît Peverelli

Yto Barrada is recognized for her multidisciplinary investigations of cultural phenomena and historical narratives.

Engaging with the performativity of archival practices and public interventions, Barrada’s installations reinterpret social relationships, uncover subaltern histories, and reveal the prevalence of fiction in institutionalized narratives.

Barrada arrived at her artist practice through studies of history and political science, particularly in the negotiation of political and personal experiences. Her first series of photographs, A Life Full of Holes, (1998–2004), used the Strait of Gibraltar as a site of inquiry, examining its status as a border between North Africa and Europe and its impact on the residents of Tangier.

Much of Barrada’s work has since focused on borderlands, microhistories, and autonomous agency within a political landscape. Interested in developing a platform for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange, she founded Cinémathèque de Tanger in 2006. North Africa’s first and only repertory cinema and archive, the Cinémathèque operates out of a restored 1930s theater known as the Cinema Rif, located in one of the city’s main squares.

In keeping with her exploration of identity, economics, and notions of authenticity, Barrada’s Faux Guide, presented at Pace London (2015), focused on the fossil and mineral trade as an aspect of cultural production. Using museum collection practices as conceptual strategies, the artist’s multifaceted exhibition reflected on acts of subversion within tourist economies. Her first exhibition with Pace in New York, How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself (2018), included a survey of the artist’s practice and included her installation and film essay, Tree Identification for Beginners, which revisited her mother’s 1966 trip to the United States on a State Department-sponsored travel program.

Informed by postcolonial thought and socio-political concerns, Barrada’s interests range from the tensions around borders, immigration, and tourism to the urban landscape, and from children’s toys to botany and paleontology. Her practice encompasses photography, film, sculpture, painting, printmaking, and publishing, while her installations often comprise both original work and found objects.

Within the interlinked logic of Barrada’s work lie secrets, pleasures, and a celebration of strategies of resistance to domination.

Barrada’s work has been exhibited at the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago (2011); Tate Modern, London (2011); Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2013); The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (2021); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2021); and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2022). In 2007, Barrada was selected to participate in the Venice Biennale. The artist has received multiple awards, including the Deutsche Guggenheim Artist of the Year (2011); the Abraaj Group Art Prize, UAE (2015); the Roy R. Neuberger Prize (2019); Mario Merz Prize (2022); Queen Sonja Print Award (2022), and Soros Arts Fellowship (2023). Works by Barrada are held in public collections worldwide, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; International Center of Photography, New York; Kunsthalle Basel; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, among others.


Yto Barrada, Untitled (After Stella, Tangier I), 2018, cotton, madder, 81.3 cm × 96.5 cm (32" × 38") 83 cm × 98.5 cm × 5.3 cm (32-11/16" × 38-3/4" × 2-1/16"), Plexiglas frame © Yto Barrada


Yto Barrada, The Snail, 2009/2011, C-print, 150 x 150 cm (59-1/16 x 59-1/16"), Edition of 5 + 2 APs © Yto Barrada