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Yto Barrada

Faux Guide

About Yto Barrada

Yto Barrada's (b. 1971, Paris) work combines the strategies of the documentary film with the metaphorical approach to imagery in her photographic, installation, and sculptural work. Engaging with the performativity of archival practices and public interventions and often comprised of both original work and found objects, Barrada’s installations reinterpret social relationships, uncover subaltern histories, and reveal the prevalence of fiction in institutionalized narratives.

Her work is held in the collections of Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Tate, London. Her exhibitions have included Kunsthalle, Basel; Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; Jeu de Paume, Paris; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Renaissance Society, Chicago; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Hayward Gallery, London; Museu de Arte de São Paulo; The Power Plant, Toronto; and the 2007 and 2011 Venice Biennales.

She won the inaugural Ellen Auerbach Award in Berlin in 2006, was named Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year in 2011, won the Abraaj Group Art Prize in 2015, and was awarded the 2019 Roy R. Neuberger Prize. The prize includes a special exhibition titled The Dye Garden, held at the Neuberger Museum of Art in 2019 and is the artist's premiere presentation of the work in the United States, following its first showing at the American Academy in Rome in 2018.

Barrada is the founder of Cinémathèque de Tanger (2006–ongoing), North Africa’s premier cinema cultural center and film archive, housed in a renovated 1930s film theater in Tangier.

Press Release

  • Yto Barrada: Faux Guide

    London—Pace London is pleased to present Faux Guide, an exhibition of new work by Yto Barrada, on view at 6 Burlington Gardens from 26 June to 8 August 2015.

    Faux Guide extends the exploration of palaeontology, museology and natural history in Morocco that Barrada launched in her Abraaj Group Art Prize show during Art Dubai and coincides with Salon Marocain, a solo exhibition of her work at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, on view through 20 September.

    In Autumn 2015, in conjunction with the exhibition,A Guide to Fossils for Forgers and Foreigners will be published: a catalogue of Barrada’s new work and a patchwork of texts written and selected by the artist, which considers patrimony and shifting definitions of authenticity, with her trademark humour, subtlety and wit.

    The arid region between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert—once the floor of an ancient ocean—has become an El Dorado for fossil discoveries and exploitation. This gold rush gave birth to a pyramid-shaped industry of motivated professionals, from the autodidact fossil hunter parsing rocks on a mountainside; to “preparators” who use dental tools to expose the ancient specimens; to rock-shop operators, wholesalers, auction houses, decorators and paleontologists.

    Barrada’s new film Faux départ (False Start) is a trancelike journey across this landscape: a film essay which includes the most creative preparators, who fabricate fake fossils, and meditations on geological time and the story of the planet.

    Faux Guide is partly Barrada’s personal museum, with the artist as faux guide, like the casbah hustler bringing tourists into a city of his own invention.

    The act of collecting—by the scientist and ethnographer; the artist; the museum curator; the amateur collector; to the child collecting rocks that look like camels—is both a preoccupation of the exhibit and it’s mode of presentation. Barrada’s new body of work also appropriates aspects of museum practice— including the readymade and the vitrine—as part of its conceptual strategy.

    Underscoring the role of geology, the exhibition design adopts the structure of a geological time scale, demarcated by coloured bands of Berber carpets that correspond to painted sections of the wall.

    The show includes photographs of dinosaur footprints and children’s toys from the 1930s, real and fake fossils, a mold of the hand of a fossil preparatory, a model of a complete dinosaur and pedagogical paintings.

    Notions of the imprint stretch across Faux Guide, evinced in the relationship between the fossil as a physical imprint and its production of paleontological, geological and historical knowledge. A series of cast assemblages in plaster extrapolate the notion of the imprint to aesthetic terrain, suggesting the affinity between the use of cast sculptures and models of nature used by artists, scientists, and museums. More quotidian objects—photographs, educational aids and industrial objects—are inflected with anonymous but personal histories or specific use values. These objects serve as alternatives to those that are traditionally sanctioned for ethnographic museum collections, especially state-run ones.


In 2015, Pace London was honoured to present Faux Guide, an exhibition of all new works by Yto Barrada which has since travelled to the Serralves Foundation in Porto and the Carré d'Art in Nîmes; and later this Fall, its next iteration will be unveiled at the Museum Leuven in Brussels, and The Power Plant in Toronto. Barrada’s work can also currently be viewed at Manifesta 11 in Zurich, and the Beirut Art Centre, as well as in her solo exhibitions at Secession in Vienna, and Tabakalera in

The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first solo exhibition in Portugal of the work of Yto Barrada.  Continuing with her exploration of Moroccan identity and the question of origins, Barrada transforms the Serralves Villa into a museum of modern and natural history. Salon Marocain will run until 20 September and will coincide with Barrada’s upcoming Pace London exhibition Faux Guide. Salon Marocain is curated by Suzanne Cotter, Director, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art

Yto Barrada uses photography, prints, film, sculpture and installation to explore the identity of her home town, Tangier and the relationship between unchecked urban development, the botanical landscape, and the subtle forms of resistance that humans—and plants—attempt against the forces of monoculture. The High Line is an elevated freight rail line turned public park in Manhattan, New York. Friends of the High Line commission public art projects and present a diverse collection of artworks