About Austrian photographer, curator and publisher, Lukas BIRK
Hashtags to describe the work by Lukas BIRK would be #storyteller, #conservator, #publisher, #traveller, #photographer, #maker, #rethinker, #afghanboxcameraproject, #fraglichpublishing, #myanmarphotoarchive, #recollective, as he writes. In short: he likes to create narratives, primarily visual, and often with materials he unearthed in places that have had some form of conflict. These narratives could be a small photo series published in a book, a large-scale archive research with institutional support for a web platform or an artistic rendition of a subject close to my heart that he turns into an exhibition. In 2007 he has started his own publishing
company, 'Fraglich Publishing'. In the first 10 years he released
sporadically books and zines of his own work and research. In the last
years, I invested a lot more energy into the publishing house and
started to release books by other authors with a focus on photographic
history as well. Examples of books released so far are: 'Gülistan';
'Chongqing Souvenir'; 'Fernweh – a man’s journey'; 'My name is Noor
Mohammad Khan'; 'My Universe'. In 2009 Lukas BIRK co-founded the Austro
Sino Arts Program in China with Karel Dudesek and they published five
annual books and organised exhibitions, film festivals, and large-scale
installations across China and Hong Kong. In Yogyakarta, Indonesia we
founded SewonArtSpace – a residency program that hosts artists from our
native Austria and other countries, creating a space for collaboration
with the local arts-community in 2013. His main efforts these days go into the
'Myanmar Photo Archive' – an endeavour to re-interpret and tell the
story of Myanmar’s photographic history.
Photo books by Lukas BIRK
'Kafkanistan' (2012); 'Afghan Box Camera' (2013); 'Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China' (2014); '35 Bilder Krieg' (2015); 'Photo Peshawar' (2018); 'Burmese Photographers' (2018); 'One year in Yangon : 1978' (2018); 'Gülistan' (2018); 'Fernweh : a man's archive' (2019); 'X=Y I·den·ti·ties' (2019); 'Reproduced. Rethinking P.A. Klier and D.A. Ahuja' (2019); 'U Than Maung' (2019); 'Box camera now' (2020); 'Yangon Fashion 1979' (2020); ' Irene. A Burmese Icon.' (2020); 'Chongqing Souvenir. A little tale of Revolution 1967-1968' (2021)
Lukas BIRK studied art and photography at the London College of Music and Media (2004-2007) as well as printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design (2015-2017). He started his journey of transforming experiences into stories with his first long voyage through India, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia in 2001 and 2002. In 2007 he moved to Beijing where he transformed his experience as a reflection on how rapidly Chinese society was changing also in a book. His main efforts these days go into the 'Myanmar Photo Archive' – an endeavour to re-interpret and tell the story of Myanmar’s photographic history. Since 2013 he collected photographs around the country and have gathered more than 20.000 images. He set up exhibitions and published books locally in Yangon. Currently, he's working on a bilingual archive platform and App that will allow public access to the entire archive; currently the largest in the world. This will be the first time that the Burmese public will have an open resource to their recent photographic history. Myanmar has a thriving culture in literature but photo books are not common yet. He has trained book-binders and print studios in Yangon to create photo book objects and hold workshops to aspiring photographers regularly. The photo books released with the 'Myanmar Photo Archive' are amongst the first photo book objects produced locally and sold internationally. Books released in Myanmar so far are: 'Burmese Photographers'; 'One year in Yanon 1978'; 'U Than Maung'; 'Reproduced'; 'Irene – a Burmese Icon'; 'Yangon Fashion 1979'.
Lukas BIRK is also working on a community platform for Box Camera Photographers around the world. 'Boxcameranow' is a project growing out of my research on Box Camera Photography in several countries, including a book. 2021 was all about researching Box Camera photography in Turkey. For 2022 he plans to produce a book, exhibition and workshop series on the subject. The Austrian received a Fulbright fellowship and other grants and awards from government and private institutions such as the British Library, the Goethe-Institut, the Arts Council of Austria, the European Union. He exhibited his projects in galleries and museums around the world and his work has found a way into private and state collections in Europe, the USA, and Asia.