Yto Barrada / LaToya Ruby Frazier

Carré d'Art–Musée d'art contemporain, Nimes, France
16 Oct 2015 - 13 Mar 2016

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On show in Nimes at the moment are two exhibitions by Yto Barrada and LaToya Ruby Frazier showing their exceptional photographic, film, sculptural and installation works.

Barradas exhibition carries her exploration of the Moroccan identity and the question of origins and also arrangements for collecting and displaying at natural history, ethnography and archaeology museums. In it she thinks through the status of the archives and industry developed around archaeological digs.



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One series of photographs presents a set of children’s toys from North Africa kept at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. Another set of works make direct reference to archaeological excavations going on across the Sahara, the discovery of fossils, as well as the booming market for fakes. The film Faux Départ is a journey through the landscapes of the Atlas mountains and a description of the work of the counterfeiters.

Geological Time Scale. Courtesy: Yto Barrada

Geological Time Scale. Courtesy: Yto Barrada

It is at once a reflection on geological eras, the history of our planet and also the history of France. This whole set of items and pictures tells us individual stories but also the way in which we can recount history through the collecting of objects, the making of artefacts and their display in museum facilities that evolve over time.

Carcharodontosaurus Toy, 2015. Courtesy: Yto Barrada

Carcharodontosaurus Toy, 2015. Courtesy: Yto Barrada

LaToya Ruby Frazier (born 1982) takes as the subject of the photographs her home town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, or rather the people who live there. This is the working-class suburb of Pittsburgh, where there used to be a large steelworks. For a number of years she has been working on those close to her and taking them as witnesses to the economic slump. Her work belongs to a long tradition of committed photographers including Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Gordon Parks. She is interested in three generations of women.

Selfportrait. Courtesy: Latoya Ruby Frazier

Selfportrait. Courtesy: LaToya Ruby Frazier

Her photos keep coming back to her grandmother, her mother and self-portraits. Going beyond the bounds of the documentary photograph, LaToya Ruby Frazier produces complex compositions with multiple centrings and mises en abyme and calling on the performative gesture.

Pier 54, A Human Right to Passage, 2014. Courtesy LaToya Ruby Frazier

Pier 54, A Human Right to Passage, 2014. Courtesy LaToya Ruby Frazier

Her contribution to the Pier 54 project on the New York City Highline was a performance in which she brandishes flags on which are printed historic photographs linked to the pier. She will be replaying that series on denim flags (denim being originally “de Nîmes”, from Nîmes), with reference to her 2011 series Campaign for Braddock Hospital in which she responded to a campaign for Levis jeans at Braddock. She has exhibited mostly in the United States (MOMA, New Museum New York, the Whitney Biennale Museum or the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art). This is her debut solo exhibition at an art institution in France.

Carre d’art Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes