Yto Barrada: A Modest Proposal
By Abdellah Karroum | February 2010
Yto Barrada's first exhibition at L'appartement 22 is "a modest proposal" in which the artist develops her vocabulary using photography, publications, film, and interventions in the urban and exhibition spaces. Cinema and graphics amplify the artist's activist approach that navigates between historical reality and ecological projection.
The artist ascribes central importance to the peripheries, to the image of corners in her photographs. "What also interests me is the insubordinate gesture. It is the perspective of its action. We set ourselves in an interesting place between poetry and politics. It is this place in which I like to work. I give information, but I am not a journalist. I give poetic things, but I am not a poet either. My work exists at the periphery of these three. I like to inform, I like to inform myself." 
The exhibition’s third element is the publication of thePalm Project Manifesto. This fanzine was distributed first during a picnic as part of the 3rd Marrakech Biennale. The publication includes a poster listing a hundred varieties of the best known palm trees, the same image of the vacant lot, and the film’s technical rider. At its centre is a pink, typewritten "modest proposal" in Arabic and English authored by a certain Yahya Sari’. Yto commissioned a text with the same ironic tone as that of Jonathan Swift, given a new content here by the imaginary Yahya Sari’ as "A Modest Proposal to Modernize Morocco and Maximize its Resources and Efficiency." 
Author’s interview with the artist at L’appartement 22, August 2009.
The absurd position advanced by Sari’’s proposal includes the proposal that "Morocco must join the European Union, and on the first day of membership, all persons on Moroccan soil not possessing a European passport, visa, or tourist card will be deemed illegal and as such, will be immediately deported."
Cf. Yto Barrada’s earlier Iris Tingitana Project (2007).
The exhibition space of L’appartement 22 is on Avenue Mohamed V and faces the Moroccan Parliament.
Independent curator and art critic. Founder/director of L'appartement 22 in Rabat, Morocco. Lives there and in Paris, France.
(Translation from French: Emma Chubb)