Artist’s Choice: Yto Barrada—A Raft is an exhibition of works from MoMA’s collection selected by Yto Barrada (b. 1971) at The Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition is organized by Yto Barrada with Lucy Gallun, Associate Curator, and River Encalada Bullock, Beaumont & Nancy Newhall Curatorial Fellow, Department of Photography and is on view until January 9, 2022. Barrada also collaborated with Deligny publishers Sandra Alvarez de Toledo and Anaïs Masson on this exhibition.
Barrada’s curatorial line of continuity deals with the work of French filmmaker, anarchist and writer Fernand Deligny (1913–1996). The framing is centered around Deligny’s work in the 1960s around anti-institutional, alternative pedagogy and practice in Europe. Of note is Deligny’s development of the notion of the “network” emerging from his informal living community. In the “network”, Deligny lived alongside nonverbal and/or autistic children and volunteers called présences proches, or close presences who were typically members of the working class, rather than social workers or psychiatrists. The network reformulates possibilities for institutions outside of totality, of language and of the human. Notions and implications of language, totality, and/or the human are surfaced and troubled singularly and collectively throughout the exhibition.
The exhibition features work by Janmari, one of the children and lifelong members of the network, archival photographs, and maps—or tracings—from Deligny’s network. The dynamism of the photos corresponds to Deligny’s motioning away from the realm of representation towards the trace, as in the trace of gesture. Barrada’s Tamo’s Raft (Le radeau de Tamo) (2021) maps a distinct path of the network (also equated with a “raft”), imagined, unwilled, and materialized.