View of “Yto Barrada,” 2015. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

View of “Yto Barrada,” 2015. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

Yto Barrada


View of “Yto Barrada,” 2015. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

What does it mean to be fake? The word immediately conjures negative terms used to describe a state of deception or untruth, an assertion that is inauthentic, unreal, perhaps even a lie. The French equivalent, faux—which also, of course, registers in English—was used repeatedly by Yto Barrada in her exhibition “Faux Guide.” The show was, quite literally, a “fake guide” through actual, probable, and fictional histories of an area of Morocco that lies between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert—once the floor of an ancient ocean, described by the gallery text as an “El Dorado for fossil discoveries and exploitation.” Numerous objects, artworks, and photographs, some collected and some made by Barrada, formed a display that operated as a travelogue and an anthropologist’s haul.

On the back wall was projected a documentary-style film, Faux départ (False Start),

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