Yto Barrada with guest artist Bettina: The Power of Two Suns

Yto Barrada with guest artist Bettina
The Power of Two Suns
On view September 19–October 31

LMCC's Arts Center at Governors Island | Upper Gallery
110 Andes Rd, New York, NY 10004
Gallery Hours: Thursday–Sunday from 12pm - 5pm


Yto Barrada  with guest artist Bettina reflect on our individual and collective reactions to the onset of disaster, ecological or otherwise. Faced with the Chesapeake Bay’s rising waters, the people of Tangier Island are hoping for a sea wall to contain the flood. But can you stop a tide the way you trap a crab? Held on another island, this one with a long military history, this show acknowledges the temptation of insularity as protection from the world, yet embraces hospitality as an act of care and collective resistance.

In The Power of Two Suns, Barrada invites a fellow artist into her space: Bettina, who once lost all her work to a devastating fire, before remaking it over decades from the solitary refuge of a room in the Chelsea Hotel. If environmental catastrophe stems in part from the amplified solar radiation caused by the greenhouse effect, can solace be found in the amplifying power of solidarity? Yto and Bettina share an interest in collecting, in grids and taxonomies, in language and wordplay, and in that special place where the patience of craft meets the intelligence of concept. Their work springs from a careful observation of their respective environments that aims not at didactic exposé but at formal invention. In the present exhibition, this method of documentary abstraction is channeled through clear lines, simple shapes and a dramatically reduced palette – as though to convert the ominous sense of an ending into the primordial forms of a new, quieter beginning.

Curated by Omar Berrada.

About Yto Barrada

Yto Barrada’s work—including photography, film, sculpture, prints and installations—began by exploring the peculiar situation of her hometown Tangier. Her work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, the Barbican, MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum, Renaissance Society, Witte de With, the Walker Art Centre, Whitechapel Gallery and the 2007 and 2011 Venice Biennales. In 2013-14 she was Artist in Residence at the Textile Arts Center. She has taught at Bard College, Cooper Union, and the Vevey School of Photography.

Barrada was the 2011 Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year, the 2013 Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography (Peabody Museum at Harvard University), the 2015 Abraaj Group Art Prize winner, the 2016 Canon Tiger Awards for Short Films and was shortlisted for the 2016 Marcel Duchamp Award.

She is the founding director of the Tangier Cinematheque, North Africa’s first cinema cultural center, which opened its doors as an artist-run nonprofit in 2007 and currently lives in New York.

About Bettina 

Bettina was born in New York in 1928. Starting in the 1950s, she produced a remarkable body of work that includes photography, painting, printmaking, sculpture, film, drawing, and text-based art. Following the loss of her work in a fire that destroyed her studio in 1966, she lived and traveled in Europe for ten years before moving back to New York and settling in the Chelsea Hotel where she still resides. Based on the observation of the city’s daily activities, her work transforms movements and gestures into form, in an effort to apprehend the elusive, transitory energies of urban life. She has been the subject of several films, including Bettina (Sam Bassett, 2008) and Girl with Black Balloons (Corinne van der Borch, 2010).

About Omar Berrada

Omar Berrada is a writer and curator, and the director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, a library and artists’ residency in Marrakech. His work focuses on the politics of cultural translation and intergenerational transmission. Currently living in New York, he teaches at The Cooper Union where he co-organizes the IDS Lecture Series.

Press Release

Related Event
Yto Barrada, Botanical (Leaf-Shapes-Trees) Fig. 1 (of 4), Drawings on paper, 2019.

Yto Barrada with
guest artist Bettina
The Power of Two Suns

Lower Studio

Explore the themes of Yto Barrada with guest artist Bettina's exhibition by participating in a hands-on art-making activity.

Also on view
Platanthera ciliaris, Michael Wang

Michael Wang
Extinct in New York

Lower Gallery

The gallery becomes a greenhouse, a sanctuary of care and a time capsule, for the city's extinct flora in Michael Wang's reverent Extinct in New York.

Yto Barrada with invited guest Bettina: The Power of Two Suns is supported in part by Art Matters and Pace Gallery. Additional funding is provided by Étant Donnés Contemporary Art, a program developed by the FACE Foundation and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, with lead funding from the French Ministry of Culture and Institut français-Paris, the Florence Gould Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Chanel USA, the ADAGP, and the CPGA.