Birkin's Iconographies series covers press portraits of Cold War era political, military and religious leaders, each bearing their newspaper editor's original crop marks and annotations. The photographs have been enlarged and their captions removed.
David Birkin studied anthropology at Oxford University and fine art at the Slade. Combining original and appropriated imagery with a conceptual approach, his work reflects on the failure of images and the relationship between photography and loss. At its core is a concern for the points at which the personal and political collide, and the limits of visibility: absence, the unseen, the ephemeral and the ineffable.
David Birkin is a 2013-14 ISP fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2012, he was on VLA’s Art & Law Program in New York, and recently finished a residency at Yaddo. He was the recipient of the Sovereign Art Prize (Barbican, London), Celeste Art Prize (Museo Centrale Montemartini, Rome), Arts Council England film funding and a National Media Museum bursary. Birkin has exhibited at the Courtauld Institute, London; The Photographers’ Gallery; Michael Hoppen; Saatchi New Sensations; Dumbo Arts Center, Brooklyn; Photomonth, Krakow; the Tallinn Kunstihoone, Estonia; and the Solyanaka State Gallery, Moscow. His work was recently shown at the MoMA PS1 Rockaway Dome as part of Expo 1: New York.