Magazine article Artforum International

Yto Barrada: Pace Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Yto Barrada: Pace Gallery

Article excerpt

What does it mean to be fake? The word immediately conjures negative terms used to describe a state of deception or untruth, an assertion that is inauthentic, unreal, perhaps even a lie. The French equivalent, faux--which also, of course, registers in English--was used repeatedly by Yto Barrada in her exhibition "Faux Guide." The show was, quite literally, a "fake guide" through actual, probable, and fictional histories of an area of Morocco that lies between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert--once the floor of an ancient ocean, described by the gallery text as an "El Dorado for fossil discoveries and exploitation." Numerous objects, artworks, and photographs, some collected and some made by Barrada, formed a display that operated as a travelogue and an anthropologist's haul.

On the back wall was projected a documentary-style film, Faux depart (False Start), 2015 (shown in alternation with The Tightrope Walker, 2015), depicting the landscape and its light states, focusing on the work of the fossil hunters whose businesses populate this region. A seating area was created in the middle of the gallery using traditional Moroccan pile rugs overlapping in purposeful disorder to form a wonky rainbow of blue, green, red, and yellow. Around the rugs stood plinths and vitrines presenting real and fake fossils, tools, a dinosaur replica in a crate, and a series of sculptures of reconfigured pipes, hoses, and showerheads found in Tangier's Grand Socco plaza. The plumbing structures are anthropomorphic in form, like performers on a stage about to come alive. Plaster casts of these pipes could also be seen in a wooden vitrine.

On the walls hung many photographs, some of them found, including images of 1930s children's toys; Untitled (painting educational boards found in Natural History Museum, never opened, Azilal, Morocco), 2013-15, consists of colorful landscapes combining photograph and paint in bright slices resembling a geological map. …

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