Yto Barrada (Moroccan, b.1971) is a visual artist who works in a range of media, including photography, film, sculpture, and installation. Born in Paris, Barrada studied history and political science at the Sorbonne, and photography at the International Center of Photography in New York. In her early series The Strait Project, started in 1998, she began to define her artistic practice, characterized by an exploration of the cultural history of local communities, in this case, the community of northern Morocco. Barrada used the Strait of Gibraltar as a metaphor for the isolation and estrangement experienced by the illegal immigrants making the dangerous journey between Africa and Europe.
In 2006, Barrada founded the independent cinema Cinémathèque de Tanger in an abandoned building in the city’s Casbah district. The cinema came to serve as a cultural center, showing local films and paying tribute to the history of filmmaking in the region.
Barrada has held exhibitions at international institutions, including the Tate Modern in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Renaissance Society in Chicago, Witte de With in Rotterdam, Haus der Kunst in Munich, the Guggenheim in Berlin, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. She also participated in the 2007 and 2011 Venice Biennales.
Her numerous awards include a Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year award in 2011, the 2013–2014 Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography from the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, and the 2015 Abraaj Group Art Prize. She is also a member of the Arab Image Foundation.
Barrada splits her time between her home in Tangier and New York City.