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.
Working with human rights lawyers, journalists, and civil liberties organisations, much of Birkin's work reflects on the way war is depicted — its mythology, iconography, and the language and legal frameworks that underpin it — as well as the intersection between military and civilian culture. 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 Guantánamo; a photographic transcription of identification numbers from the Iraqi civilian casualties database; an archive image from Kabul traced to Afghan lapis lazuli mines; an extract of CIA legalese in skywriting above Manhattan; 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 for Frieze, Cabinet, Creative Time, Ibraaz, The Harvard Advocate, and the American Civil Liberties Union. 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, and was an artist-in-residence at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's studios on Governors Island. Birkin has exhibited internationally at the Mosaic Rooms, Courtauld Institute, Photographers’ 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.