Irina Birger by Marcel van der Vlugt

With her multicultural background, Irina Birger learned how to adapt to very different cultures, and as an artist, she creatively overcame many struggles. To this date, she is fascinated with human nature and its desire to belong to social groups, to be a part of a community, and identify with its people. The need for connectedness between members of social groups and how it is manifested in daily life is the key issue in her work, in its factual meaning and as an abstract structure. In her research, the constant attraction of the self with the social is a central theme. From the artist’s position as an observer, Irina tries to eliminate the barriers between the singular and the group while acknowledging individuality, and by doing so enabling forms of coexistence. She uses a range of strategies and methods to encourage this connection, such as personal sharing and staging in specific spheres and locations.

Growing up in the Soviet Union, Irina experienced the powerful mechanisms of propaganda that repressed independent thought and inquiry. Its methods were not just practical, but also extremely visual. Social Realist style and Stalinist Imperial architecture greatly influenced her artistic development. Their monumental arrangements inspire admiration, humility, and wonder, similar to the visual impact of the sacred formations. As a result, Irina is strongly interested in the visual strategies and formal principles of different religions, cults, and totalitarian regimes, and incorporates them in her work. Central symmetry, patterns, slogans, and monumental approach often appear in her projects.

Drawing is Irina’s modus operandi. She uses this medium not only on paper but as a site-specific part of an installation or public art, in video works and her participatory performances.

Irina was born in Moscow and lived in Serbia as a teenager. She studied fine arts at the Bezalel Academy of Fine Art and Design in Jerusalem and at Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam.
Her work was presented a.o. in Israel Museum (IL), Tel Aviv Museum (IL), Haifa Museum of Art (IL), Mediamatic (NL), W139 (NL), Apexart (US), the Israeli Centre for Digital Art (IL), Today Art Museum (CN), Redtory (CN), Preview Berlin Art Fair (DE), Blue Oyster Art Project Space (NZ), Drawing Center Diepenheim (NL), Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (NL), Kabinet T (CZ), Nieuw Dakota (NL), Amsterdam Drawing (NL), Viborg Kunsthal (DK), AMNUA (CN), Q21 (AT) and Kunsthal Kade (NL).

Irina was an artist in residency at a.o. Chinese European Art Centre (CN), the Israeli Center for Digital Art (IL), MeetFactory (CZ), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (DE) and MuseumsQuartier (AT). 

Her works are part of many private and public collections such as Haaretz Art Collection (IL), Israel Museum (IL), C-Collection (Lichtenstein), EYE Collection (NL), CBK Zuidoost (NL) and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (NL).

Irina accomplished projects for public space assigned by ProRail (Dutch Railways) in 2015 and by Municipality of Utrecht in collaboration with TextielLab (Tilburg) in 2020.

© 2021 Irina Birger unless otherwise stated. Image and text may not be used without the prior permission of the copyright holder.

Irina’s work is generously supported by Mondriaan Fund.