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What is the essence of a photograph, or more precisely, of an ID photo, portrait or self-portrait? You could almost ask, what is the essence of art. Or, what is the essence of life? That time always passes. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus put it in the 5th century BC, Panta Rhei, ‘Everything changes, nothing remains still’. In the short video film ‘Irina Birger Thinks Drawing is Important’, Irina Birger provides her answer to such questions. A waterfall of self-portraits taken from photo albums belonging to her, her family and circle of acquaintances, creates an ingenious, dizzying autobiography of the artist through the years.
We see the stereotypical development of the artist influenced by the history of art, from classic to contemporary, and by the places where she has lived in her nomadic existence, from communist Russia, the former Yugoslavia at the beginning of the civil war there, Israel during the Second Intifada and Germany after its reunification, to her present but certainly not final destination: the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
There's a pinch to these moving images, where the essences of film and photography converge and clash. In a similar manner Birger's life collides with the wrenching history of the conflict zones and the sometimes difficult existence as an artist. ‘Drawing is Important,’ she posits at the end, her answer in this photo-turns-film project to the question of how she holds her own in life.
Irina Birger (1972, Moscow) studied at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. Her work has been represented in the Israel Museum (2001 and 2009), World Expo Shanghai (2010), Garazh, Moscow (2010), Fresh Paint, Tel Aviv (2010), Apexart, New York (2008) and in Today Art Museum, Beijing (2008), among other venues. Together with Katja Solokova she has acted as curator for the project ‘Gastarbeider Dating’ in Mediamatic, Amsterdam (2008) and other shows. For now, Birger lives and works in Amsterdam.
‘Irina Birger Thinks Drawing is Important’, 2010 (HDV, 15 minutes)
The film will be shown four times during the Museum Night in SMBA:
7:30 p.m., 8.30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. and 0.30 a.m.
Each time the screening will come just before or after the performance programme of ‘A City Landscape Performance Tour’.
Directed and edited by: Jose Miguel Biscaya, Brian McKenna and Irina Birger
sound: D. Riba (Studio Kinematix)
Financially supported by Fonds BKVB
NB: During the whole Museum Night the exhibition by Joep van Liefland, ‘Black Systems – Extended Version’ is also open to the public.