The New War Photographers: In the Picture with David Birkin
We are delighted to partner with the University of the Arts London (UAL) photography research centre PARC, based at London College of Communication, for a new series of events examining how today’s photographers and artists are finding new strategies to bring to light important information in the public interest – information that governments would rather remained secret. Working with lawyers, human rights specialists – and becoming rigorous investigators in their own rights – these new war photographers reveal the invisible battlefields that have been multiplying the world over since 9/11.
For the second event of the series, we will be joined by critically-acclaimed artist David Birkin, in conversation with Max Houghton, who uses his work to examine elements of censorship and spectacle in the so-called War on Terror. He has explored subjects ranging from the covert deployment of drones in Pakistan and Yemen, to the Bush-era ban on photographing flag-draped coffins. We will be hearing from Birkin on his recent work that engages with invisible warfare – including ‘The Shadow of a Doubt’, his public performance involving a plane circling the Statue of Liberty’s torch; and ‘The Evidence of Absence’, in which he launched a replica of a military surveillance blimp currently flying over Kabul above a London residential neighbourhood.
This event will be moderated by Max Houghton, senior lecturer in photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. She previously ran the documentary photography MA at the University of Westminster, and edited the photography biannual 8 magazine for six years. She writes regularly on the arts for publications including FOAM, Photoworks, 1000 Words and The Daily Telegraph.
David Birkin is a British-born artist based in New York. He studied anthropology at Oxford University and fine art at the Slade, and was a fellow on the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art. His past projects have included a collaboration with the courtroom sketch artist at Guantanamo, a visual rendering of identification numbers from the Iraqi civilian casualty database, and skywriting an extract of CIA legalese above Manhattan. He has exhibited internationally, most recently at The Mosaic Rooms in London, FotoFest in Houston, and the Whitney ISP in New York, and has written for publications including Creative Time Reports, Cabinet Magazine, Ibraaz and the Harvard Advocate.