Yto Barrada (b. 1971, lives and works in Paris and Tangier) develops a vocabulary using photography, publications, film, and interventions in the urban and exhibition spaces. Cinema and graphics amplify the artist’s activist approach that navigates between historical reality and ecological projection. The artist’s works carry deep political commitment, often using Tangier and the Strait of Gibraltar as a site of inquiry that is both artistic and documentary. Her work has been included in exhibitions such as the Jeu de Paume (Paris), MoMA (San Francisco), and the 52nd Venice Biennale.
YTO BARRADA’S “PALM PROJECT” LOOKS AT THE MARKETING OF MOROCCO AND THE HOMOGENIZATION OF THE COUNTRY’S URBAN AND BOTANICAL LANDSCAPE. THE PROJECT ALSO ASSESSES THE STATUS OF THE PALM TREE, THAT ICON OF EXOTICISM AND SELF-FOLKLORIZATION. ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE PLANTS DISCUSSED AND MOROCCAN SUBJECTS LIVING OR DEAD ARE PURELY COINCIDENTAL. This multifaceted work by Yto Barrada incorporates photography, video, archiving, and a public intervention in Marrakech. Her intervention in the street and at Casa Botanica plant nursery is amplified by her publication. The "Palm Project" fanzine, distributed during a picnic at Casa Botanica and throughout the 3rd Marrakech Biennale, includes a poster listing a hundred varieties of the best-known palm trees, a vacant lot image, and the film Beau Geste’s technical rider. At its centre is a pink, typewritten “modest proposal” in Arabic and English authored by a certain Yahya Sari’. Yto commissioned this text to have the same ironic tone as that of Jonathan Swift, given a new content here by the imaginary Yahya Sari’ as “A Modest Proposal to Modernize Morocco and Maximize its Resources and Efficiency.”