David Birkin

David Birkin is an artist based in New York. Born in London, he studied anthropology at Oxford University, fine art at the Slade, and was a fellow of the Art & Law Program, and the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Using performance, photography, and text, much of Birkin's work reflects on the way war is depicted: its mythology, iconography, and the language and legal frameworks that underpin it. At its core is a concern for censorship and the edges of visibility, often focusing on omissions, redactions, glitches, or slips in the smooth surface of a political system to disclose a deeper ideological drive.

Birkin began photographing subjects on the periphery of conflict — such as the training of female journalists in Kabul, the founding of Afghan Film, and conscientious objectors during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War — before starting a non-profit lecture series on art and politics. In 2009, he was awarded a bursary by the National Media Museum and a graduate scholarship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Birkin was the recipient of the 2010 Sovereign Art Prize (Barbican, London) and the 2012 Celeste Prize for Photography (Museo Centrale Montemartini, Rome), and was an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. He has performed in films by Nathaniel Mellors for the ICA, Tate Triennial, British Art Show, Hayward Gallery, Venice Biennale and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and narrated the English translation of Chris Marker and Alan Resnais‘ 1953 film Les statues meurent aussi at the French Institute in London.

Birkin has written on the ethics and aesthetics of conflict and its intersection with civilian culture for Frieze; Cabinet; Creative Time Reports; Ibraaz; The Harvard Advocate; and the American Civil Liberties Union’s blog. He has given talks at Oxford University's Institute for Ethics, Law & Armed Conflict, LCC University of the Arts London, the Imperial War Museum, Culture + Conflict, and Queens College CUNY, New York. He has exhibited internationally at the Courtauld Institute, The Photographers’ Gallery, The Mosaic Rooms, Saatchi Gallery, Trolly Books, and Photo50, London; Baibakov Art Projects and the Solyanka State Gallery, Moscow; Photomonth, Krakow; the Kunstihoone, Tallinn; the Benaki Museum, Athens; Centre d'Art et Photographie, Lectoure; MUDAM Museum of Modern Art and the Casino, Luxembourg; FotoFest, Houston; Mana Contemporary, MoMA PS1 Rockaway Dome, and the Whitney Museum ISP, New York.




2017  Abstracted Mythologies  |  Beton 7, Athens, Greece

2017  Looking for the Clouds  |  Casino Forum d'Art Contemporain, Luxembourg

2017  The Data Battlefield  |  Fotomuseum, Antwerp, Belgium

2016  InColorForm  |  SVA, New York, USA

2015  Memory Lab  |  MUDAM Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg

2015  Et Mon Droit  |  Cøpperfield, London, UK

2015 Athens Photo Festival  |  Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece

2015  L’Été  Photographique  |  Centre d’Art et Photographie de Lectoure, France

2015  Sensor  |  FotoFest, Houston, USA

2015  Mouths at the Invisible Event  |  The Mosaic Rooms, London, UK

2015  COBRA 1.7  |  71a Gallery, London, UK

2014  ISP Exhibition  |  Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA

2013  Expo 1: New York  |  MoMA PS1 Rockaway Dome, New York, USA

2013  Lieux de Mémoire  |  Sumarria Lunn Gallery, London, UK

2013  Some Fifty Miles of Concrete Pavement  |  (Art) Amalgamated, New York, USA

2013  Artist in Residence Exhibition  |  NARS Foundation, Brooklyn, USA

2012  The World in London  |  The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK

2012  Celeste Prize Exhibition  |  Museo Centrale Montemartini, Rome, Italy

2012  Moments of Reprieve  |  Paradise Row, London, UK

2012  VLA Art & Law Residency Exhibition  |  Dumbo Arts Center, Brooklyn, USA

2012  Fresh Faced & Wild Eyed  |  The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK

2012  Photographers Transcending the Print  |  Photo 50, London, UK

2011  Mirror Gaze  |  Solyanka State Gallery, Moscow, Russia

2011  New Sensations  |  Saatchi Gallery, London, UK

2011  Everlast  |  ICA, London, UK

2011  Moments of Reprieve  |  Tallinn Kunstihoone, Estonia

2011  MA Degree Show  |  Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, UK

2010  Sovereign Art Prize Exhibition  |  Barbican Centre, London, UK

2010  East Wing IX  |  Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK

2010  Exposure  |  National Media Museum, UK

2010  Aktualnosci UK: Photography in Britain  |  Photomonth, Krakow, Poland

2009  Starting with a Photograph  |  Saatchi Gallery, London, UK

2009  Natural Wonders  |  Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow, Russia

2009  Photocinema  |  Format ’09 Photography Festival, Derby, UK

2008  Form  |  Galerie Nuke, Paris, France

2008  The Body Beyond Death  |  Trolley, London, UK