“It’s hard to say which is the most mysterious: Mitra Tabrizian’s photographs, or Tabrizian herself. In her extraordinary, light-filled London flat – from a window you can see the glass towers of the City, a landscape she has sometimes used in her pictures – she is telling me how she came to Britain from Iran. It was 1977, shortly before the Revolution. While her cousins moved to America, Tabrizian attended first an international school in Exeter and later the then Polytechnic of Central London, where she studied photography. Did she come alone? ‘Yes.’ She must have been very young. ‘Yes!’ A teenager? ‘Ye-es.’ So why Britain? ‘I was curious about Europe. I was told it was hard to join the British establishment. It was a challenge.’
How did she get interested in photography – does she have an artistic background? ‘Well, my uncle was a painter… It was almost by accident. I’d always been interested in class divisions in Tehran. They were severe. I started taking pictures. But you take pictures of the poor, and then what? Do you put them on a wall? Gradually I became familiar with critical theories, with how you read an image. I realised that regular documentary work might not necessarily be the answer.”
By Rachel Cooke
To view more of Mitra’s work click here.