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Photo by Pace Gallery, London; Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, Beirut; and Galerie Polaris, Paris

Yto Barrada

Five Films by Yto Barrada

May 2015 – July 2015

High Line Channel 14, 14th Street Passage, on the High Line at West 14th Street

May 14 – July 8, 2015
7:00 PM daily until the park closes

Yto Barrada was born in Paris in 1971 and grew up in Tangier, Morocco, a city whose complex colonial history and present generation’s restricted mobility she reveals through sculpture, photography, and film. Barrada’s films sketch informal portraits of individuals in her community, her own family, and the larger encapsulating governing conditions of Tangier, humanizing larger political concerns through intimate portrayals of ordinary individuals. In much of Barrada’s work, she focuses on Tangier’s relationship to Spain, a coastline only nine miles away, which was all but closed to Moroccan immigrants after the signing of the 1991 Schengen agreement, and the dissecting body of water – the Strait of Gibraltar – that defines much of how the artist understands contemporary life in Morocco.

For her High Line Channel program, Barrada presents five works. A Guide to Trees for Governors and Gardeners (2014) follows a mechanized motorcade as it processes down the street to the sound of beating drums and cheering fans. La Contrebandière (The Smuggler) (2005) and Le Magicien (The Magician) (2003) portray two people in the performance of their titular role: the smuggler exposing how she transports fabrics from Ceuta, Spain to shop owners in Tangier, and the magician performing his idiosyncratic spectacle. Beau Geste (Kind Gesture) (2009) and Hand-Me-Downs (2011) are both narrative, longer form works. The former reveals nuances about land use, ownership, and regulation in Tangier through a story about neighbors rescuing a plot of land and a palm tree. The latter film, Hand-Me-Downs, takes found family film footage and pieces it together under a voice-over narrating 16 different myths of unreliable family stories.

Image: Yto Barrada, Hand-Me-Downs, 2011. 16mm and 8mm film transferred to digital video, color, sound; 15 minutes. © Yto Barrada 2015. Courtesy Pace Gallery, London; Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, Beirut; and Galerie Polaris, Paris.

Artist bio

Yto Barrada (b. 1971, France) lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013 – 2014); and MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome (2012). Notable group exhibitions include Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York (2014); XL: 19 New Acquisitions in Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013 – 2014); and Fruits de la Passion, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2012 – 2013). Barrada’s work has been featured in major biennials including the Istanbul Biennial (2013); the 54th and 52nd Venice Biennales (2011, 2007); the Sharjah Biennial (2011); and the Biennale Internationale, AIM Festival, Marrakech (2010). She was also the founding director of the Cinematheque de Tanger.


High Line Art is presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Major support for High Line Art comes from Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, with additional support from Vital Projects Fund, Inc. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.