Yto Barrada – Riffs | Deutsche Guggenheim





1.1 Overview

Title: Yto Barrada – Riffs

Place: Unter den Linden 13-15, 10117 Berlin

Time: 15.04.2011-19.06.2011

Subject: first large-scale exhibition of Yto Barrada in Germany

Target / Focus: With the presentation of the works of Yto Barrada /the “Artist of the Year” 2011/ the exhibition reflects on such questions like internationalism, social issues, cultural diversity, history, etc.

Objects: Photographs, films, installations, publications

Target group: Everyone, who is interested in photography, video art or the understanding of different cultures.


1.2 Impressum

Curators / authors: Friedhelm Hütte, Global Head of Art Deutsche Bank, and Marie Muracciole, Art Critic and independent Curator/ Paris

Catalogue: Edited by Deutsche Bank, Interview by Negar Azimi with the artist , texts by Okwui Enwezor, Friedhelm Hütte, Marie Muracciole, Daniel Soutif, Pierre de Wack, graphic design by Marie Lusa



2.1 Classification

Institution: Company Museum

Category: Solo art exhibition

Exhibition space:

Interior: Built-in wooden interior, stairs. Well separated various spaces.

Exterior: Many advertisements all around the city, huge posters and molynos.

Period: It was a temporary exhibition, like always in the Deutsche Guggenheim.

Budget: I think the budget should have been quite big, because they might have spent a lot of money not only on the high standard exhibition, but also on the media campaign, the advertising of the exhibition.


2.2 Presentation

Authentic objects / equipment:

Built-in mezzanine, which completely changes the exhibition space. Creates new and more intimate spaces, what are also helpful in process of perception.


Photo series: A Life Full of Holes: The Strait Project (1998-2004), Iris Tingitana (2007), Red walls (2006), Belvedere (2001)

Films: Beau Geste (2009), Playground (2010), Hand-Me-Downs (2011)

Posters: pages of the Palm Project Manifesto (2009)

Installation: Plate tectonics (2004), Palm sign (2010), Lyautey Unit Blocks (2010), Cinémathèque de Tanger (screening room, with the model of the Cinémathèque)

Some of the artworks are in the property of the Deutsche Bank. This fact, and the choice of Yto Barrada in itself also shows the Deutsche Bank’s commitment next to the social issues and the cultural diversity.

Yto Barrada’s works are not only documentations of the contemporary situations in North Africa, they are also filled with a huge amount of personality and memories. There are some eternally returning metaphors or pictures in her oeuvre, for example the motif of the abandonment or the simplest symbol of the nature, the tree. These symbols are talking about the encounter of different worlds, like past and present, the Eastern and Western culture, emptiness and life, etc.

But the whole exhibition is permeated by some kind of natural serenity which finely but very successfully comes back in the intsallation-design too.

Invitation to participate:

In the exhibition, there are no interactive elements. But the clearness and quietness of spaces prevent the contemplation. The materials and colors what they used for the furnishing are very similar to the world of Yto’s pictures. Somehow the architecture reflects the artistic attitude of Barrada, we can meet with same duality of intimacy and distance in-between one space what we also can feel through most of her photographs.


2.3 Creative Central

Object Presentation:

Photographs: Despite of the pictures were printed in different sizes, the installation of the photographs was very consistent. I believe that was due to the simple wood framing.

Videos: There was no problem with the projections, but the sound was not always the best. When you walked a little bit farther on from the speakers, you could not hear the sounds perfectly. An other annoying problem for me was the lack of the seats in front of the projections.

There was a pink room, just above the book shop. It was quite hard to find it, and the surroundings were too light to see the projection well. The sound was also too silent there.

My favorite part of the installation were the posters (Palm Project Manifesto), which were placed on to each other like different layers, with some replications and gaps too.

Personally, i also really loved the solution that they made for the built-in 2nd floor. It provided the opportunity to see the whole space below including the artworks and even the spectators who were just passing by.

The exhibition was mainly thematically and visually structured, but also with a huge amount of sensitivity, which probably comes from Yto Barrada’s personality, and the nature of her works.

There were no text on the walls, only a short cv of the artist and a description about the conception in front of the entrance.

It is always the curator’s and the artist’s decision. And sometimes that is not a problem, because the texts do not lead your mind in an other direction, but sometimes it detracts from the information quality of the pictures. I think in this exhibition the latter happened, and sometimes it was a little bit annoying, but maybe just for me.


2.4 Technical skills



C-prints in different sizes, neutral wooden frames


Beau Geste: 16mm film, color, sound, 3min

Playground: 16mm film, 3channel, color, 88min38sec

Hand-Me-Downs: digital video 15min


Palm Sign: Aluminum, steel, color light bulbs, 251.5x152x51cm

Lyautey Unit Blocks: wood, paint, dimensions variable

Plate tectonics: wooden model with moveable continents


posters: pages of the Palm Project Manifesto, offset prints

catalogue: 2011., 164 pp., 87 color ills., 28.80 x 28.60 cm, clothbound

free brochure: 2011., 16 pp., 10 x 18 cm