Yto Barrada (b. 1971; lives and works in New York and Tangier) combines the strategies of documentary with a metaphoric approach to imagery in her photographic, film, and sculptural work. Her artistic practice also involves engaging her local community with its own cultural history, most visibly by the renovation of a 1930s movie palace in the heart of Tangier. In 2006, Barrada founded the independent cinema Cinémathèque de Tanger in a languishing structure in the Moroccan city’s famed Casbah district as a way to engage with the collective memory and material history of Tangier. Cinema Rif, as the theater is named, was brought to life as both a thriving cultural center and a place to discover the films and remarkable history of filmmaking in the region.
The exhibition Album: Cinematheque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada includes films, artworks, and artifacts that speak to the artist’s connection with the social and political realities that shape her hometown—its rich and fractured history of migration, indigenous communities, and colonization. In the gallery, screenings of short works from the archive of Cinémathèque de Tanger and the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Collection reflect life in the region from the 1930s to the present. Sculptures by Barrada—Palm Sign and a set of dioramas that depict cinemas during the heyday of grand theaters—are presented with her film Hand-Me-Downs (2011), a montage of Super 8 home movies from the 1960s. Artist-commissioned and vintage movie posters and a Scopitone “music jukebox” featuring films made by North African migrant workers in 1960s Paris are also on view. Together, these elements create an album that portrays Morocco’s rich and complex visual and cinematic culture.
Curators: Sheryl Mousley and Clara Kim