ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Yto Barrada
* 1971 Paris (FR), lives and works in Tangier (MA)

Bus, Tanger, 2004

Tectonic, 2004–2010

In her works, the artist and activist Yto Barrada addresses contemporary life in her Moroccan home city of Tangier, which is heavily influenced by its geographical location almost directly on the border to Europe. Every day in Tangier, people from various African countries try to cross the only fourteen kilometers-wide Strait of Gibraltar to reach the Spanish mainland. Not only adults, but also very many children and teenagers embark on this dangerous journey, hoping their age will save them from a later extradition. As unwanted guests, they often hide under the chassis of tourist buses and in this way try to cross the Strait undetected. With detail shots of the logos of bus companies, the photographic series Bus makes reference to this exodus of children and teenagers from Morocco and other African countries, who are able to read the logos on the buses as direction signs for their destinations. In parallel, through their selection of image excerpts, the photographs forge a bridge to classic modern art with its purportedly universal language of abstraction, throwing up questions about the enmeshment of art, (neo-)colonialism, and current geopolitical conflicts.

Tectonic also illustrates the desire to produce images different from the widespread depictions of migration in the mass media. For her world map made of wood in which the continents can move towards each other, Barrada takes as her motif the geological phenomenon of continental drift. Continents moving closer together can be read as visualizing a blueprint for a future in which borders slowly dissolve and free, borderless and non-life-threatening migration becomes possible. (HP)


, Tanger, 2004


, 2004–2010