Yto Barrada: Agadir at the Curve, Barbican
The Curve at the Barbican Centre is one of London’s most unusual spaces dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art. Aptly named, the gallery space curves round an awkward corner in the Barbican complex, opening up new images with each step and offering a unique challenge to contemporary artists.
Yto Barrada is the most recent artist to have been invited to create a site-specific installation for the Curve, and Agadir constitutes Barrada’s first solo exhibition in a public gallery in London. Her practice has previously made use of a variety of media, many of which come together in this showcase featuring a mural, a new film commission, sculpture (some of which doubles as furniture), collages and even an element of live performance.
The multiplicity of media in the work reflects the complexity of Barrada’s subject: the Moroccan city of Agadir during its recovery after a devastating earthquake that hit the modernist city in 1960. Morocco had only gained its independence from colonial rule in 1956, and although the 1960 earthquake caused death and destruction, Barrada also investigates the idea that it offered an opportunity to rebuild the city in a post-colonial image.
Much of this rebuilding was done using Brutalist architectural principals, an element of the artist’s collages and drawings that echoes the concrete setting of the Barbican, which was similarly rebuilt after a period of devastating change (in this case, the Second World War). Through this connection, Barrada offers a powerful commentary on universal human responses to change.
Agadir is a complex exploration of complex concepts and at times feels slightly impenetrable, but it is worth untangling in order to get at some fundamental human truths that resonate across decades and continents.
Yto Barrada: Agadir is at the Curve, Barbican from 7th February until 20th May 2018. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.