Yto Barrada for The Curve at the Barbican Centre

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Yto Barrada’s first solo show in a public gallery in London will be opening on 7th February at The Barbican. In 2018, The born-in-Paris Moroccan artist will transform The Curve into a spectacular site-specific installation comprising a new film, vibrant sculptural interventions based on traditional Moroccan wicker weaving techniques, live and recorded performances as well as a mural.

Her oeuvre started as an exploration of the peculiar situation of her hometown Tangier to later examine themes of migration, botany, memory and resistance. Barrada’s work has been exhibited at Tate Modern (London), MoMA (New York), and the Centre Pompidou (Paris) among many other prestigious museums worldwide.

Yto Barrada said; “The Barbican Curve is as scary as a haunted house: some pretty great ghosts have already installed wonderful projects using the space in every possible way. And now for my sins, it’s my turn. I’m honoured to have a chance to try. In my performance and installation piece, I will explore relationships between spatial proximity, affect and trauma. The segmented architecture of Agadir embodies a visual repertoire for all dreamers of a New Town or even of a New World.”

For this project, she takes as her starting point the hybrid novel-play by Moroccan writer Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine – Agadir  (1967) – which reflects on the devastating earthquake that destroyed much of the modernist city of Agadir, Morocco, in 1960. Weaving together personal narratives and political ideals, Barrada presents a complex portrait of a city in transition, resonating with many of the challenges we face in contemporary society.

Highlights will include a monochrome mural stretching along the length of the gallery’s outer wall, curved like the city’s bay. Barrada sketches the architecture of Agadir beginning before the earthquake and continuing with the iconic buildings constructed following the disaster. Agadir was rebuilt by several architects and urbanists, whose use of bare concrete and rigorously structured forms, heavily influenced by the Brutalist style pioneered by French architect Le Corbusier, resonates with the Brutalist expression of the Barbican’s buildings. Echoing the Barbican’s own history as a site of post-war destruction rebuilt with utopian ideals, Agadir’s reconstruction followed Morocco’s newly gained independence from colonial rule.

Image: © Yto Barrada, courtesy Pace Gallery; Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, Beirut; and Galerie Polaris, Paris