Visiting the Ikon gallery the other day I was struck by their current exhibition of work by Yto Barrada, specifically her photographs of the fringes of Tangier, her hometown in Morocco. The photos are lovely, intelligently curated and exhibited as large square prints in simple frames around the gallery, but what really struck me was how this was a perfect case-study for our Photographing the City four part course. Sure, I have conceptual blinkers on as PtC has pretty much taken over my life this year, and her work is about much much more than illustrating specific approaches to photography, but to see People, Structure, Detail and Stories laid out so perfectly was great to see.

Like so many contemporary visual art exhibitions there’s very little visual online to entice you along but I did find three high-res copies of her work to show you, which nicely illustrate People, Structure and Detail.

La Cage aux singes (Monkey Cage), 2008/2011

Briques (Bricks), 2003/2011

Arbre généalogique (Family Tree), 2005

Like all great photographers she understands the rules and applies or breaks them as necessary. Many of the shots are off by a few degrees, the sort of thing that could easily be fixed to make the composition “perfect”, but by keeping this imperfection alongside often classical forms of composition she brings an uncertainly and tension to what are, ostensibly, mundane subjects.

I can highly recommend seeing this show if you have an interest in photography, but I’d really like people to spend some time studying the photos and then immediately go out and take their own shots of Birmingham. In fact, as I write this, I’m wondering about arranging something like that…

Yto Barrada RIFFS is on at Ikon until 8th July 2012. Entry is free and the gallery is open Tuesday – Sunday, 11am-6pm.

Images © copyright Yto Barrada, used for promotional purposes.