Yto Barrada, Winning Artist, Abraaj Group Art Prize 2015
16mm, digital video, color, sound 23 min, 2015
False teeth. Faux pas. Faux filet. Faux amis. False advertising. Faux guide. False prophet. F is for fake. False start…
Definitions of authenticity shift like the composition of the famed 18th century lying stones.
Once the floor of a prehistoric ocean, the now-arid region between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert has lately become an El Dorado for new fossil discoveries and exploitation— from major dinosaurs to trilobites. The remains of the spaceship-shaped trilobite, 250 to 500 million years old, are perhaps the world’s most collected fossils.
This gold rush gave birth to a pyramid-shaped industry of motivated professionals, from the autodidact fossil hunter parsing the rocks on a mountainside; to the “preparators” who bring the ancient specimens to light, starting out with dental tools; to the rock-shop operators, wholesalers, auction houses, decorators and internationally-trained paleontologists.
The preparators practice a spectrum of wildly creative savoir-faire that spans from unearthing and embellishing intact specimens from the rock, to the grafting of broken creatures together. The most talented include those who don’t shy away from the notion of fake: they assemble different species into a hybrid new creature, or simply create limited-edition duplicates, using nature’s originals and moldmaking principles, modern hardware store compounds, and techniques of their own invention.
Yto Barrada lives and works in New York. Yto Barrada’s work —including photography, film, sculpture, prints and installations— has been exhibited at Tate Modern (London), MoMA (New York), The Renaissance Society (Chicago), Witte de With (Rotterdam), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery (London), and the 2007 and 2011 Venice Biennales.
She was the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year for 2011 and is a recipient of the 2013 Robert Gardner Fellowship (Peabody Museum at Harvard University) and is nominated for 2016 The Marcel Duchamp Prize. Faux départ received the Tiger Award for Best Short at the 2016 Rotterdam International Film Festival. Barrada is the founder of Cinémathèque de Tanger and is represented by Pace Gallery (London), Sfeir-Semler Gallery (Beirut-Hamburg), and Galerie Polaris (Paris).