Yto Barrada

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nougat

Doha, Mathaf
dal 2 Agosto al 30 Novembre 2020

The exhibition

Yto Barrada’s work engages with self-education, architecture, palaeontology, botany, and modernist histories, in order to explore forms of knowledge production. Through material and archival research and experimentation, Barrada’s work examines what is at stake in specific moments of obstruction. Allowing the body of the histories and narratives she works with to echo across one another, connections emerge between expressions of autonomy and new relationships to temporality.
My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nougat brings together photographs, films, videos, sculptures, prints, and fabric works. The exhibition focuses on threads of regeneration and growth in social and geological transformation. The works highlight the importance of the vernacular in processes of decomposition and revival, drawing on histories of nation building and post-independence strategies of resistance in social and domestic life.

Weaving interdisciplinary methods within a framework of dark humour, global economy and geologic time, the exhibition articulates a critical desire for equality, self-expression and empowerment. This is evinced in the parallel but distinct lives of Barrada’s mother, Mounira Bouzid El Alami, central protagonist of Tree Identification for Beginners (2018); French ethnographer Thérèse Rivière; and Lebanese modernist Saloua Raouda Choucair, who play crucial roles in this exhibition. Their life stories and practices in the fields of geometry, architecture and botany are rich sources for Barrada’s (re)narration of modernist histories of art, architecture, design and social development. These visionary women each engage with abstract, self-taught ways of living and learning — techniques of creativity and inventiveness — that are revalued as contemporary skills.
Working with tactics of self-learning and myth-making through theatrics and props, Barrada challenges how plurality and validity exists and is disseminated. This take on the language of learning is drawn on in the series Mnemonic Phrases (2019), from which this exhibition borrows its title.