Iris Tingitana serie © Yto Barrada - Galerie Polaris Paris
Polaris Galerie is pleased to announce you that Yto Barrada is Deutsche Bank's "Artist of the Year" 2011. On the recommendation of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, consisting of curators Okwui Enwezor, Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann and Nancy Spector and chaired by Pierre de Weck, member of Deutsche Bank AG's Executive Committee, the bank honors young artists who have already created an extraordinary oeuvre in which works on paper or photography play an important role.
As "Artist of the Year," Barrada will be presented in a comprehensive solo exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin from April 15 to June 19, 2011, which will subsequently be shown at other international institutions. Unlike many other prizes, the "Artist of the Year" award does not include prize money, but is firmly embedded in Deutsche Bank's art program, with which the bank has made contemporary art accessible to the public worldwide for 30 years. An extensive publication will accompany the exhibition and Barrada will realize an exclusive artist's edition for the show in Berlin. In addition, the bank is acquiring a selection of works on paper by the artist for its collection. After Wangechi Mutu in 2010, Yto Barrada is the second artist to be named Deutsche Bank "Artist of the Year." As of the end of 2010, an entire floor of the bank's modernized corporate headquarters in Frankfurt will be devoted to her work.
Barrada's work – photographs, films, publications, installations and objects – reflects the peculiar situation of her hometown, Tangier, and the way notions of local and global are articulated there. At the northern tip of Morocco, Tangier is a city of several frontiers. One border is the Strait of Gibraltar: the 13 km wide stretch of dangerous currents which divides Africa from Europe has come to symbolize the odyssey of the immigrant, and the existential issues of a society dominated by a desire to leave. Another frontier of this fast-growing city of a million souls runs along its shifting outer edge, where new construction meets the landscape of northern Morocco. There, a quieter drama is played out as the diversity of local people and wildlife yield to the bulldozers and concrete trucks, and the monocultural vision of the planners and developers who command them.
The work of Yto Barrada resists any simplification of the context of immigration – that great European "issue" – on the globalized world. In the photo series "A Life Full of Holes: The Strait Project," which she began in 1998, the artist portrays the city and its residents in a kind of everlasting waiting state. The suspended expectation of the people relates at the same time to their personal imaginary, to the ancient myths of remission and death, as well as to the present geographic and political situation. Her recent project, "Iris Tingitana" has extended Barrada's inquiry to the landscapes that surround Tangier. These works records the shifting border between city and nature, and the accompanying homogenization of the country's urban and botanical surfaces.
Barrada grew up between Tangier and Paris, where she studied history and political science at the Sorbonne, and subsequently attended the International Center of Photography in New York. Her practice, combining the strategies of documentary with a more meditative approach of images drove her to return home, after sixteen years abroad. There, she continues to explore the many levels of a complex reality, avoiding the rigidity of any discourse, and without showing any dramatic event. Barrada's work evokes a Tangier where postcolonial history has materialized one of its dead-ends. And another response of this artist to the dynamics of the region was to co-found the Cinémathèque de Tanger, North Africa's first cinema cultural center, which she now directs. The Cinémathèque offers another way to invest herself into the status of images and representations, specifically in the Arab world.
"A main focus of our global art activities is to engage with different cultures and social realities. Yto Barrada is therefore an excellent choice as 'Artist of the Year 2011'," said Pierre de Weck.