Cinematheque Tangier: Yto Barrada, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Yto Barrada lives and works in New York and Tangier. Her artistic practice involves engaging her local community in Tangier with its own cultural history, most visibly by the renovation of a 1930s movie palace in the heart of the city. Barrada combines the strategies of documentary with a metaphoric approach to imagery in her photographic, film, and sculptural work.

Founder of the independent cinema Cinematheque de Tanger, Barrada chose a languishing structure in the Moroccan city’s famed Casbah district as a way to engage with the collective memory and material history of Tangier. Cinema Rif, as the theatre is named, was brought to life as both a thriving cultural centre and a place to discover the films and remarkable history of filmmaking in the region.

The Walker Art Center’s exhibition Album: Cinematheque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada includes films, artworks, and artefacts that exude the artist’s connection with the social and political realities that shape her hometown – its rich and fractured history of migration, indigenous communities, and colonisation. In the gallery, screenings of short works from the archive of Cinematheque de Tangier and the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Collection reflect life in the region from the 1930s to the present.

Sculptures by Barrada and a set of dioramas that depict cinemas during the heyday of grand theatres are presented with her film Hand-Me-Downs (2011), a montage of Super 8 home movies from the 1960s. Artist-commissioned and vintage movie posters and a Scopitone “music jukebox” featuring films made by North African migrant workers in 1960s Paris are also on view.

Together, these elements create an album that portrays Morocco’s rich and complex visual and cinematic culture. Album: Cinematheque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada runs from 28 February until 30 March at the Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis. For more information visit www.walkerart.org.

Credits
1. Abdellah Taïa’s Salvation Army. Photo courtesy Pascale Ramonda.