Adrienne Edwards on Yto Barrada


As part of the Annual Guide to Galleries, Museums and Artists (A.i.A.‘s August issue), we preview the 2016-17 season of museum exhibitions worldwide. In addition to offering their own top picks, our editors asked select artists, curators and collectors to identify the shows they are looking forward to. Here, Adrienne Edwards talks about Yto Barrada.

“I’ve been following Yto’s work—which spans prints, films, photographs, and installations—for some time now. This show, ‘Faux Guide,’ is singularly emblematic of her lush conceptualism: thick with materials and thick with ideas. Here she reveals how specific elements like Moroccan geology and history can speak to something more universal. Her interest in the subject has much to do with having been born and raised in Tangier. The artist is very aware of Morocco’s relationship to the rest of the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Europe. She engages notions of hybridity and the productive potential of doubt. Working with a bit of truth and a bit of fiction, she points to the power of myth. Nothing is truly authentic. Things exist in diverse, sometime contradictory multiples. Can we trust what we know and what we think is certain?

“Yto’s projects seem to never end. This show has had museum and gallery presentations abroad, but it’s not just a set exhibition that’s touring; it’s a new presentation each time. The iterations don’t resolve themselves. The project is accumulative, like the geological processes that the work enacts—like sediment. The viewer becomes as insatiable an explorer as the artist herself; one has to dig, as Yto did. The stunning textiles she creates are like cohesive weavings of all the different threads of the show itself. They become a set of convergences. That kind of circuitry and exchange is fundamentally what the work is about. That’s what makes it so powerful.”

”Yto Barrada: Faux Guide,” Power Plant, Toronto, Oct. 15, 2016–Jan. 2, 2017.


Adrienne Edwards is curator and head of programming at Performa, New York, and visual arts curator-at-large at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.