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. Past projects include a collaboration with the courtroom sketch artist at the Guantánamo military tribunals; a photographic transcription of identification numbers from the Iraqi civilian casualties database; a photo-archive image from Kabul traced to Afghan lapis lazuli mines; an extract of CIA legalese in skywriting above New York; and a plane circling the Statue of Liberty’s torch towing a banner that read ‘The Shadow of a Doubt’.
Birkin has written on the ethics and aesthetics of conflict and its intersection with civilian culture for Frieze; Cabinet; Creative Time Reports; Ibraaz; Disegno; The Harvard Advocate; and the American Civil Liberties Union’s blog. He has lectured 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, and was an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Birkin has exhibited internationally, most recently at Fotomuseum, Antwerp; Mudam, Luxembourg; the Benaki Museum, Athens; and The Mosaic Rooms, London. He also assists the artist Martha Rosler.