By David Álvarez
No other Moroccan photographer working today has achieved the sort of international prominence that Yto Barrada now enjoys. Born in Paris to émigré Moroccan parents, raised in France and Morocco, educated in those two countries and in the United States, Barrada is a consummately global artist whose work has been exhibited in places as far-flung from each other as Birmingham and Beirut, Dubai and Chicago. No matter where her work is exhibited, however, whether in the Middle East, in England’s Midlands or in America’s Midwest, Barrada’s subject matter has been and remains resolutely local: her work dwells principally on Tangiers and its environs, although the latter can at times be read as metonym for the country as a whole. Along with the Rif mountain chain that lies behind it and the bodies of water that it overlooks, “the quaint provincial town” that Barrada calls home bulks large in all of her work not just as photographer, film-maker, and installation artist, but also as the co-founder and director of the Cinémathèque de Tanger, a multi-purpose cultural center that houses among other projects the Cinéma Rif, one of the first movie theaters in the country.