Yto Barrada: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nougat

Past Exhibition

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nougat brings together photographs, films, videos, sculptures, prints and fabric works.

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Yto Barrada’s work engages with self-education, architecture, palaeontology, botany, and modernist histories, in order to explore forms of knowledge production. Through material and archival research and experimentation, Barrada’s work examines what is at stake in specific moments of obstruction. Allowing the body of the histories and narratives she works with to echo across one another, connections emerge between expressions of autonomy and new relationships to temporality.

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nougat brings together photographs, films, videos, sculptures, prints, and fabric works. The exhibition focuses on threads of regeneration and growth in social and geological transformation. The works highlight the importance of the vernacular in processes of decomposition and revival, drawing on histories of nation building and post-independence strategies of resistance in social and domestic life.

Weaving interdisciplinary methods within a framework of dark humour, global economy and geologic time, the exhibition articulates a critical desire for equality, self-expression and empowerment. This is evinced in the parallel but distinct lives of Barrada’s mother, Mounira Bouzid El Alami, central protagonist of Tree Identification for Beginners (2018); French ethnographer Thérèse Rivière; and Lebanese modernist Saloua Raouda Choucair, who play crucial roles in this exhibition. Their life stories and practices in the fields of geometry, architecture and botany are rich sources for Barrada’s (re)narration of modernist histories of art, architecture, design and social development. These visionary women each engage with abstract, self-taught ways of living and learning — techniques of creativity and inventiveness — that are revalued as contemporary skills.

Working with tactics of self-learning and myth-making through theatrics and props, Barrada challenges how plurality and validity exists and is disseminated. This take on the language of learning is drawn on in the series Mnemonic Phrases (2019), from which this exhibition borrows its title.

Yto Barrada (b.1971) is a Moroccan-French artist based between New York and Tangier.

Curator, Laura Barlow
Assistant Curator, Wadha Al-Aqeedi

Artist Bio

Yto Barrada (b. 1971) is a Moroccan-French artist recognised for her multidisciplinary investigations into cultural phenomena and historical narratives. Engaging with archival practices and public interventions, Barrada’s installations uncover lesser-known histories, reveal the prevalence of fiction in institutionalised narratives and celebrate everyday forms of reclaiming autonomy. She is the founder of Cinémathèque de Tanger, a cultural centre that has become a landmark institution bringing the Moroccan community together to celebrate local and international cinema.

Barrada’s work has won multiple awards, including the Roy R. Neuberger Prize (2019); the Tiger Award for Best Short Film at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2016); the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2015); the Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography (2013); and the Deutsche Guggenheim Artist of the Year (2011).

Barrada has held numerous solo exhibitions internationally, including those at the Neuberger Museum of Art, New York, USA (2019); LMCC’s Arts Center at Governor’s Island, New York, USA (2019); Casa Luis Barragan, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); Barbican, London, UK (2018); American Academy in Rome, Italy (2018); Secession Vienna, Austria (2016); The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2016); Carré d'Art, Nîmes, France (2015); The Serralves Foundation, Porto, Portugal (2015); and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA (2013).

Her work is held in the collections of, and has been exhibited at, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA; Tate Modern, London, UK; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; the Deutsche Bank Collection Berlin, Germany; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; the Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm, Germany and New York, USA; Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, Austria; and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, Canada, among others.