Art, Last chance to see, Outside London

Le Salon (2011)

I visited RIFFS, the Yto Barrada exhibition at the Ikon in Birmingham over the weekend. It finishes this Sunday, but if you’re some kind of dirty Midlander like me (well, I’m a begrudging ex-Midlander now) it’s definitely worth a trip.

If you haven’t been to Birmingham before, by the way, it’s not shit. 

Although it’s predominantly a photography exhibition, the highlight of the Barrada show has got to be the film, ‘Hand Me Downs’ (2011). To be perfectly honest, I’m not the biggest fan of film as a medium. Quite often in galleries I just watch them as an excuse to have a little sit down. However I was totally glued to this, probably because of the unreliable yet genuinely funny narrator speaking over the top. As an ex modern literature student,  I’m a sucker for an unreliable narrator, and besides, who doesn’t like their art with a side order of LOLZ every now and then?

The photos are mainly images of everyday life in Tangier, the artist’s hometown. Personal favourites were ‘Le Salon’ (2011, above) and ‘L’escargot’ (also 2011, which irritatingly I don’t have an image of). If anyone knows why that image is called ‘L’escargot’ I would really like to hear from them, because I spent quite some time looking for sneaky little Matisse reference, and to no avail. The pictures weren’t bleak, exactly, but had a very real quality to them which I absolutely loved.

Also on at the Ikon until the 8th is My Bad by Bedwyr Williams, which features an installation made with those fibre-optic UFO lamps teenagers used to have in their bedrooms in the 90s. Worth a look if just for the nostalgia.

UPDATE: A lovely lady from the Ikon gallery got in touch with me and has helped me solve my snail query:

“The photograph entitled L’escargot contains a snail within the grass – it’s very small and well camouflaged so it takes a bit of spotting. The artist explained to us when the show opened that the picture is about ways of seeing; the snail is there but hidden within the vast larger landscape.”

How interesting! Thanks, Ikon!

Family Tree (2005)

RIFFS by Yto Barrada is showing at the Ikon, Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HS until Sunday July 8

I’m looking to get some guest posts on other great galleries outside of London; if you have any ideas, holla (


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