You Can Keep It Eat It is a performative sculpture and video piece that ‘sonifies’ Baryi’s frustration with the lack of access to archives and collections from the Maghreb region held within European cultural institutions. Playing on the phonetic echo of the title (a translation of a popular Moroccan vernacular phrase used to express exasperation at a request for something), the piece consists of a handmade cork and wood mallet, which the artist used in the performance as his ‘instrument’, and which now serves as the ‘housing case’ for a USB stick containing a digitised version of the performance’s 50mm film documentation, as well as the artist’s research materials for the work.
In 2021 Bayri travelled to the “Doors of the Desert” in southwest Morocco for a week-long residency with other participants in the group exhibition Hotel Sahara, a project of France’s “Africa 2020” cultural initiative. The gathering offered him the opportunity to listen to peers from other Sahara regions, including from Libia, Senegal, Sudan and Tunisia. It was there that he learned of two primary archives on the Sahara, one held in Italy’s Vatican City and the other in the southern French region of Aix-en-Provence. It turned out, though, that neither was open to him as a non-academic ‘civilian’. Instead, he went to France with his handmade mallet and created a performance that turned the institution (and, later, Magasins Généraux, the site of the Hotel Sahara exhibition) into a resonance box. Playing the walls, gates and gratings, You Can Keep It Eat It activated the buildings’ physical presences in a way that the archives could not be, turning the popular Moroccan expression into a mischievous snap back at the on-going colonial logics governing power to information.
Camera operator: Kyle Keese
Curatorial and production assistance: Maia Hawad and Laure Bruno