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David Birkin

Born in United Kingdom. Lives in: London
Slade School of Fine Art, UCL

My work is concerned with absence and the ephemeral. Combining photography, sculpture and performance art with a conceptual approach, it deals with the language of loss and its representation in the private and political domains. Much of my photographic practice is about rethinking the relationship between form and content, reflecting on the idea that images are more often about what cannot be seen than what is depicted visually. For the series 'Confessions', each photograph’s exposure was determined by the length of time its subject chose to speak, whilst 'Embedded' was created by disrupting the digital encoding process of appropriated images.

Artist photo

Artist Picture


Work of art I would like to make

My Slade MA degree show brought together a series of sculptures and photographic works that explore the language of loss. If selected, I would like to develop these concerns with an installation of transparencies from the series 'Profiles', alongside a new work: 'One Minute Silence'.

The previous installation was titled 'Thirty Six Shades of Red' and consisted of 36 identification numbers from the Iraq Body Count database expressed as hexidecimal colour values and printed onto 10"x8" film: one of the oldest formats in the history of photography. The individual sheets were installed in the windowpanes of a neo-classical façade, with each transparency representing a civilian casualty. Every identification number generated a unique colour, while the person's name, age, occupation and cause of death were contained within the JPEG filename, printed on the film’s rebate. Due to an idiosyncrasy in the encoding process, the colour mix remained dominated by red.

My proposal would be to construct a new installation of transparencies using display lightboxes from hospital X-ray units. Much of my current work focuses on the randomness of acts of war, as well as disparities in the allocation of grief between military and civilian casualties – a subject explored in depth by Judith Butler – and this display would open up a new set of reference points for the work. The red-tinged light bleed from the transparencies would serve to illuminate a large black-and-white print depicting the dissipation of energy from a bell after it has been struck, with the photograph's exposure timed to exactly one minute.


My Artworks (6)

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