Yto Barrada

30.09.2016 - 17.01.2017

Yto Barrada

reveals the different layers of Morocco

What happens when the cultural heritage of Morocco is taken abroad? And what happens when it is forgotten in its homeland? The answer of the French-Moroccan artist Yto Barrada (°1971, France) is refreshingly clear: those in danger of losing their past will often simply create a new one. This exhibition presents the enormous diversity of Barrada’s work. In addition to her attention to fossils, tradition and authenticity, other elements also play a central role.

(Fake) fossils

The region between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara in Morocco is known as ‘Dinosaur Road’. It was once littered with fossils and enormous dinosaur skeletons, until many of them started being removed from Morocco. The region is now characterized by a flourishing trade in excavations, forgeries, and the sale of fossils. In her work, Barrada shows interest in both the fossils and the craftsmen who create new pieces for tourists. Her new film Faux départ (False Start) is focused on the sale of fossils.

Salon with a nod to Hubert Lyautey

At M, Barrada reflects on the relationship between Morocco and its (paleontological) past. She presents a series of photos of educational panels on which you can clearly see the layers of the earth and geological fault lines. You find the same layers in her new installation Salon géologique. The carpets and pillows with geological codes are reminiscent of a Moroccan living room, but also refer to Hubert Lyautey (1854-1934), a general who wanted the ‘authentic’ and ‘traditional’ Morocco to rise again under French rule.

Curators: Stéphane Symons, Hilde Van Gelder, Eva Wittocx

Exhibition organized by M-Museum Leuven in cooperation with KU Leuven as part of the citywide Utopia festival.

Yto Barrada was a double project with the exhibition Tracing The Future.


This two-piece publication with new works and a collection of texts, written and selected by the artist, tells a story about heritage and changing definitions of authenticity, and is peppered with humor, subtlety and cleverness.


Yto Barrada

Yto Barrada © Benoît Peverelli


Yto Barrada


Yto Barrada was born in France in 1971 and grew up in Tangier and Paris, where she studied history and political science at the Sorbonne. She continued her studies at the International Center of Photography in New York. Her work has been shown at venues including The Power Plant, Toronto (2016) Carré d’Art, Nîmes (2015), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (2012), Tate Modern, London (2011) and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2010). She took part in the 2007 and 2011 Venice Biennales. She has won a series of prestigious prizes in recent years. Yto Barrada is represented by Pace Gallery, London, Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg/Beirut and Galerie Polaris, Paris.