La courte échelle (Räuberleiter)
Opening: Thursday, September 5th,2013 6-9 PM
Sfeir-Semler Gallery is happy to announce the opening of its new, extended gallery space on Thursday, September 5th, from 6-9 pm. Our ground floor location has remained the same but we have expanded onto the first floor and are excited to start a new exhibition program, beginning with YTO BARRADA’s Räuberleiter and the launch and signing of the new book on the artist, published by JRP-Ringier.
Born in Paris in 1971, Moroccan-French artist Yto Barrada’s work interrogates the social and political fabrics of life in Morocco, capturing the complex and multifaceted emotions tied to the ideas of territory and development, particularly in Tangier.
Seated on the Strait of Gibraltar, just 13 km away from Europe, the city presents an opportunity to explore life amidst great divides, be it geographically, economically, or politically. It has long been governed by global inequality, producing a culture of escape, a local and mental frozen, diasporic state in which the subjects are longing for a better life in an unknown elsewhere, while perceiving their present as temporary, severing connections and groundings of the past. It is also a city of constant change and quick development, showing the same longing of the inhabitants in the push to resemble the costal towns of Spain, rapidly producing private structures and widening divide between city and nature in the midst of an urban sprawl.
The exhibition La courte échelle (Räuberleiter) takes Barrada’s sculptures, videos, photos and prints and particularly focuses on the notions of play and family, amidst these divides, fluctuating between and blurring the public and private. The film Hand Me Downs (2011) uses archived amateur films from the 1950s and 1970s, investigating through narration 16 myths from her family’s past. Her painterly and poetic analog photographs capture these moments of divide and disenchantment both within the residents and landscape of the Tangier. The colors of the C-prints deepen the experience and richness of the snapshot style photos, conversing with private family photographs. The large, illuminated Twin Palm Trees engage the urban/nature divide, presenting two cartooned trees characteristic of Tangier on children’s wagons, transformed from environmental staple to commodity toy.
It becomes apparent that each of these avenues are an approach to exploring the larger themes of memory and colonial subversion which guide Barrada’s practice and personal projects including the founding and directing of the Cinémathèque de Tanger, North Africa's first art house cinema, and membership in the Arab Image Foundation.
Her work has been exhibited by institutions including MoMA, the Jeu de Paume, and the Venice Biennale. In 2011 she was named the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year and her show RIFFS has been touring and shown at the Guggenheim in Berlin, Wiels in Brussels, Fotomuseum Winterhur in Zurich, Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, and MACRO in Rome.