Yto Barrada

FRA (1971). Lives and works in Tangier.

Tectonic Plate, 2010
Polychrome wood
122 x 200 x 3 cm

Barrada is a multidisciplinary artist that joins history and politics through photography, video, and sculpture. She sheds light on what falls outside of tourist stereotypes and Western prosperity and attempts to unravel the historical meanings of the world in which we live. Her work brings back forgotten pieces of history, resisting the homogenization that we are subject to in a globalized world, both culturally and contextually.

Plate Tectonics is a bass-relief on wood in the shape of a map of continental drift—all the continents drifting towards Africa while Africa stays still at the center. What is understood from this is that in the future, perhaps 650,000 years from now, we will be able to walk from Africa to Europe. On the contrary, the Schengen Agreement from 1991—which removed the borders separating member countries of the European Union—strengthened border controls with other countries and turned Tangier into a blind alley, and the Strait of Gibraltar into a cemetery for those who have since then tried to cross, risking their lives in the process. This closure caused by natural borders is seen by the artist as an enormous irony, as a reversal that we cannot prevent: the inescapable natural movement of the tectonic plates that is drawing the continents together.