Interview with Yto Barrada, Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year 2011

Within the framework of the Frieze Art Fair 2010 in London, Deutsche Bank presented Yto Barrada as the “Artist of the Year” 2011. After Wangechi Mutu, Barrada is the second woman whom the bank is honoring with the award.

The was announced at the Deutsche Bank Lounge at Frieze by Pierre de Weck and Okwui Enwezor. On the occasion of the Announcement, VernissageTV had the opportunity to do a short interview with Yto Barrada, who talks about her background, her work, and one of her artworks presented at Frieze, Tectonic Plate (2010).

Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” award was presented for the first time in 2010. The award is selected on the recommendation of Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann, and Nancy Spector. The four curators make up the Global Art Advisory Council, Deutsche Bank’s art committee chaired by Pierre de Weck, a member of the bank’s Group Executive Committee.

The award is special in that it doesn’t include prize money to be given to the artist, instead the artist is awarded with an exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. A selection of works by Yto Barrada will be shown in a comprehensive solo exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin from April to June, 2011.

Works by Yto Barrada such as her Palm Sign were presented by galleries at Frieze Art Fair. Her works Plate Tectonics and Bus Logos were on display at the Deutsche Bank Lounge. Plate Tectonics (La tectonique des plaques) is a 3-dimensional map with movable pieces, created by Yto Barrada to demonstrate continental drift. “Plate Tectonics” projects facts and data into a political and poetical dimensions. The piece both materializes and symbolizes a slight floating of representations – perhaps also destabilizing certain strong beliefs about the limits of our world. After all, in just over a million years, the Strait of Gibraltar will be gone, and anyone who whites will, in theory, be able to walk from Africa to Europe – assuming such a crossing remains desirable” (excerpt from the press release). In the Bus Logos series (C-prints) the logos of the bus companies are depicted which bring travelers from Africa to Europe and back. The undercarriages of these tourist buses are used by teenagers and children to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. The logos of the bus companies function as ideograms in the code of these illicit travelers, many of whom cannot read.

Yto Barrada was born in 1971 in Paris, France. She lives and works in Tangier, Morocco. Yto Barrada studied history and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris, and photography at the International Center of Photography, New York. She is director and co-founder of the Cinémathèque de Tanger, Tangier. More information on Yto Barrada and her work is available at DB ArtMag.

Currently, Yto Barrada has a solo show at the Centre de la Photographie in Geneva, Switzerland. She is also working on a monograph that will be published with Swiss publisher JRP Ringier.

Announcement Deutsche Bank “Artist of the Year 2011” at Frieze Art Fair 2010. Interview with Yto Barrada, October 14, 2010.

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Photo set:
Yto Barrada

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