Minneapolis, July 23 2013—The Walker Art Center is very pleased to present An Album: Cinémathèque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada—a multilayered exhibition of films, artworks, movie posters and ephemera exploring the practice of Tangier-based artist and filmmaker Yto Barrada, on view November 21, 2013 through May 18, 2014. Barrada’s practice has recently encompassed the founding of an artist-run, independent cinema in the heart of Tangier. Opened in 2006, Cinémathèque Tangier occupies a theater constructed in the 1930s, an era that saw the rise of grand movie palaces. Today it operates not only as a fully functioning cinema with daily screenings, but as an archive and dynamic social space that engages various audiences with the city’s rich film history.
For An Album: Cinémathèque Tangier, the Walker’s Burnet Gallery will be transformed into a compelling installation punctuated by a screening program of films culled from the cinémathèque’s collection and the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Film Video Collection. The elegiac 6/12 (1968) by Ahmed Bouanani pictures the streets of Tangier from 6 am to noon, and Beirut Outtakes (2007) shows a collage of film scraps from a closed down Beirut cinema by American film artist Peggy Awesh. The screening program will also include two works by Yto Barrada—Beau Geste (2009) and The Magician (2003).
Additionally, the exhibition features artworks by Barrada including Palm Sign (2010), a sculpture in the form of a movie marquee, and Hand-Me-Downs (2011), a montage of super-8 home movies from the 1960s. Artist-commissioned movie posters will line the walls of the gallery, and an archive area will house vintage movie posters, ephemera and Scopitone films created by Arab immigrants in France—many from Morocco and other North African countries who traveled to work in the post-WWII labor force. A short-lived genre that was a precursor to music videos, 16mm Scopitone films played on jukebox-like devices in cafés, and featured laborers singing their stories of migration and assimilation.
Together the constellation of works in the exhibition explores Barrada’s deep interest in the cinematic representation of Tangier as it relates to notions of collective memory and within the context of the region’s politically and culturally loaded history. Cinémathèque Tangier becomes both a physical creation and an extension of Barrada’s artistic practice as it delves into rich and complex issues of Tangier as a place eternally imagined, romanticized, and even exoticized.
The Walker’s annual Expanding the Frame series highlights artists breaking the conventions of filmmaking, and shows how the medium itself is being reframed in the 21st century. This year’s program will feature screenings of films by Yto Barrada in the Walker cinema on February 27, 2014. The six short films are Hand-Me-Downs, The Magician, Playground, The Smuggler, Beau Geste, and The Botanist. The artist will be present to discuss her film work with the audience.
Throughout March 2014, a series of films selected by Yto Barrada and Walker film curator Sheryl Mousley will play in the Walker’s cinema and focus on films shot in or around Tangier or that tell the larger story of contemporary North Africa. Selected from the Cinémathèque’s archive as well as favorites of the Tangier audience, titles include La Corona Negra (1951), On The Edge (2012), and Traitors (2013). Also in the series will be much-beloved African films from the 1960s including Black Girl by Ousmane Sembene and Come Back Africa by Lionel Rogosin, interwoven with a selection of contemporary films.
About the artist
Yto Barrada (b. 1971, Paris) grew up between Tangier and Paris, where she studied history and political science at the Sorbonne. She subsequently attended the International Center of Photography in New York. After sixteen years abroad, she returned home to Tangier where she continues to engage her community with ways to explore and maintain their cultural history. She now lives and works in New York and Tangier.
As Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year 2011, her solo exhibit, Riffs, traveled the world via a partnership between Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. She also exhibited films and photographs, Palm Project and My Family and Other Animals at the 2011 Venice Biennale. Current exhibitions include The Whitechapel Gallery, London and MAC, Marseille. Her work was also included in the 2007 Brave New Worlds exhibition at the Walker.
An Album: Cinémathèque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada is curated by Film/Video senior curator Sheryl Mousley with Visual Arts senior curator Clara Kim. The exhibition is co-presented by the Walker’s Film/Video and Visual Arts departments, representing the Walker’s commitment in supporting practices that cross and transgress disciplinary boundaries.
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