'Censorship is not the mutilation of the show, it is the show. The code is the message. It points to the absolute by hiding it'.
Chris Marker, Sans Soleil
David Birkin's work explores the proposition that photography may be as much about what cannot be seen as what is depicted visually. Combining sculpture, performance art and lens based media with a conceptual approach, his practice deals with the ephemeral: loss, transience, the photographic trace and a recurring tension between the hidden and the revealed.
Birkin was awarded a bursary by the National Media Museum to develop his ongoing series Confessions, for which people are invited to confess a secret they have never previously disclosed, whilst sitting alone in a room facing a camera. Each exposure is then timed to correspond to the duration of its subject's confession, so that the photograph's form is dictated by its content. The life-sized prints convey a sense of mood and body language without revealing any specific details relating to the sitters' confessions.
For Unknown Soldier, the artist invited an anonymous soldier from the British Army to take private confession. The work takes its title from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - a symbolic ritual in which the unidentified remains of one soldier are held in memorial to all dead soldiers - while the subject's anonymity can be read as a critique on the unreported events that occur during war.
After studying anthropology at Oxford, Birkin received a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art where he is currently completing a postgraduate degree. He won the 2010 Sovereign European Art Prize for his Diptych exhibited at the Barbican and his work has featured in exhibitions at the Courtauld Institute, James Hyman, Photomonth Krakow and Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow.
Birkin lives and works in London
MA Fine Art (Photography) Slade School of Fine Art, UCL
BA Human Sciences (Anthropology) University of Oxford
Sovereign European Art Prize Exhibition, Barbican Centre, London
Aktualnosci UK: Photography in Britain, Photomonth, Krakow & Hotshoe Magazine & Gallery, London
Exhibitionism, Courtauld Institute of Art, East Wing IX
Exposure, James Hyman Gallery
Play, Paradise Row, London
Starting with a Photograph, Saatchi & Michael Hoppen Gallery
Natural Wonders: New Art from London, Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow
Photocinema, Format '09 Festival, Derby
Heart of Glass, Contemporary Art Society
Form, Galerie Nuke, Paris
Hold (with Eloise Forneiles), Paradise Row, London
4 Hours, Phillips de Pury, London
The Body Beyond Death, Trolley Books and Gallery, London
The Letting Go-, T1+2 Gallery, London
Vanishing Point, Madder 139, London
Afghanistan: A Letter from the Boneyard, Eleven Fine Art, London
Fame and Promise, Vitoria Miro Gallery, London
2010 Sovereign European Art Prize
2009 National Media Museum Bursary
2007 ING Discerning Eye
Tosca Photography Fund
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