Photographic Alphabet: A is for Adam Birkan
By Leah Pfenning
Adam Birkan began his studies as a photojournalist but quickly altered his approach to photography after watching a William Eggleston documentary in college. After graduating from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication, The Jerusalem-born photographer moved to Bangkok to explore a more artistic modus operandi with photography.
Birkan took an interest in showcasing the economic disparity of the region through capturing the juxtaposition of architecture, design, color and texture. His work challenges the disparity in class, so deeply integrated into the culture, it is evident from a crack in the sidewalk to the erection of a sky rise.
Tone is a major component of Birkan’s style. Color is used minimally, and when used, is a stark contrast to the otherwise grey, derelict environment. The goal is to expose a mired truth about the social and economic circumstances of Asia through the quotidian details. A lesson that Birkan has taken from Eggleston, “everything is interesting”. An oversight is a story missed, an unturned stone, an unexposed truth - and Birkan doesn’t want to miss a thing.
Adam’s work has received accolades from National Geographic and he was named one of PDN 30, 2017 and Magnum’s 30 under 30. He has had exhibitions at JAM Gallery, Bangkok Art & Culture Center and Miami Street Photography Festival. Birkan continues his visual storytelling work through long and short-term projects around Asia. He gives a platform to the mundane and in that new light we see how interesting, relevant and loud the structures we navigate can be.