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PhD History and Theory of Art, The University of Kent (1994)
MA History and Theory of Art, The University of Kent (1990).
Postgraduate Diploma Fine Art Photography, Glasgow School of Art, 1988
Fine Art BA (Hons), Exeter College of Art and Design, 1987.


Mark Durden is a writer and artist. He studied Fine Art at Exeter College of Art and Design and at Glasgow School of Art, going on to study History and Theory of Art at University of Kent at Canterbury— attaining an MA by research for a thesis on Roland Barthes and a PhD on Photography and the Book. He has taught both Art History and Fine Art at Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury and at Staffordshire University. He taught History of Photography at University of Derby where he became Reader in 2002 and Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) in Photography in 2003. He left Derby in 2007 to join Newport as Professor of Photography. He has published extensively on photography and contemporary art and since 1997 has worked as part of the artists’ group Common Culture.



I have supervised 16 PhDs to completion primarily as Director of Studies.

Dragana Jurisic, YU: The Lost Country (2013).

Geraint Davies, Dimensions, Perceptions: Resonances from Dürer’s MELENCOLIA I (2012).

Yannis Kontos, Beyond Photojournalism (2011).

Ronnie Close, The Abject and the Envy: An Investigation of Art & Politics in the 1981 Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland, (2011).

Antonia Bardis, Imaging the City: Modernity, Capitalism and the Making of Modern Athens, 2010. (University of Derby)

Helen Sear, Reconstructing Experience (2009) [PhD by published works].

Panos Kokkinias, (2009). (University of Derby)

Kay Lynn Deveny Confessions, conventions and cockroaches: reflecting on home via photography and the diary (2008).

Nikos Panayotopoulos Terra Cognita: The Western Hegemonic Representations of Greece Through the Case of Athens (2008). (University of Derby)

Peter Day, Invisible Boundaries (2007). (University of Derby)

Penelope Petsini, Photography and the Contemporary Greek Family (2004). (University of Derby).

Eleni Mouzakiti, A Plurality of Isolations (2003). (University of Derby).

Haris Kakarouhas, Suspended Time: A Cuban Portrait (2003). (University of Derby). Winner of the Leica-sponsored 2003 European Publishers Award for the photographic work submitted for his PhD.

Jane Fletcher, The Way She Looks: Robert Thompson Crawshay’s Photographs of his Daughter, Rose Harriette (2002). (University of Derby)

David Reid, Just Looking: Michelangelo Antonioni, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Jeff Wall (2001). (University of Derby)

Olivia M. da Silva, In The Net (2000). (University of Derby)


I have been external examiner for 9 PhDs in total:

University of Ulster, Belfast (2); De Montfort University, Leicester; University of St Andrews; Loughborough University; University of Wales, Newport; Goldsmith’s University, London; St Martins, London, Dublin Institute of Technology.


Director of European Centre for Photography Research

Programme Leader for MA Documentary Photography (since 2013).

Director of Studies for 10 PhD students.



Modern Cumbrian Jokes, Birmingham: Endless Supply, 2015

This artists’ book arose from of a commission from Florence Mine Arts Centre in Egremont, Cumbria. Working as part of the artists’ group Common Culture (with David Campbell and Ian Brown), we worked with the designers Endless Supply to create a book combining an international modernist design with the local jokes we had drawn from people in Cumbria.

Photography Today: A History of Contemporary Photography, London: Phaidon Press (May 2014) 464 pages.

Photography Today is a major new survey of photography as art from the 1960s to the present, from photography’s role and impact in terms of Pop and Conceptual art to the extraordinary transformations it has gone through in the digital age. With large format reproductions of more than 500 images, it offers detailed discussion and analysis of work by over 150 photographers through eleven thematic chapters on subjects such as street photography, portraiture, landscape photography and documentary.

Photography Today is currently being translated into Spanish, French and Chinese.

Selected Reviews/Features

The Sunday Times Magazine (circ. 830,404)— 6 page feature— 31st May
The Sunday Times Magazine — 4 page feature— 8th June
The Sunday Times Magazine— 6 page feature— 15th June
The Sunday Times Magazine— 4 page feature— 22nd june.

BBC Online— picture gallery, 4th June, 2014 (nearly 500,000 hits and translated for the BBC World Service).

“…Durden points out the richness of open and expansive discourse in contrast to a rigid, linear account or simple taxonomy.” Stephen Clarke

Stephen Clarke, review, Photomonitor, July 2014.

“Featuring hundreds and hundreds of high-quality photographs on 450 pages, the book ends up offering the probably best in-depth view of what contemporary photography currently has to offer.” Jörg Colberg.
Jörg Colberg’s review in Conscientious, an on-line website about contemporary fine art photography, 23 June 2014.
“Durden employs a poetic approach to writing often, which gives the book a lightness, preventing it from becoming turgid, dull or unnecessarily academic.”
Gemma Padley, Review, BJP, 31 May 2014.

“Durden presents a survey of contemporary art photography from the past 50 years and has perhaps presented a volume that will enter into photography-book lore.”
Amateur Photography, 5th July 2014.

(With Ken Grant) Double Take, Liverpool: LJMU Archives 2013, 43 pages. This book was published in relationship to the Look/15 photofestival and accompanied an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, May 15- 17 Sept 2013.

Edited. 50 Key Writers on Photography, London, Routledge, 2012. For this book, I commissioned 37 leading writers on photography from around the world to contribute essays on 50 key writers on photography. I also wrote entries on Szarkowski and Sontag for this book.

(With David Campbell) Variable Capital, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008, 224 pages. This book, specially designed by Lawn Creative, accompanied the exhibition Variable Capital, co-curated by Campbell and Durden, at Bluecoat, Liverpool, 16 May- 29th June, 2008.


Bea Leal, ‘Consuming Culture’ International Socialism, Issue 135, June 29, 2012.
David Evans, ‘A conversation with Common Culture’, Afterimage, Vol.36, No. 2, Sept-October, 2008.
David Evans, ed., Critical Dictionary, London: Black Dog, 2011, ‘Variable Capital’, pp. 139-143.

Dorothea Lange, London: Phaidon, 2001, 128 pages. Initially published as a paperback in 2001 as part of the Phaidon 55 series, it has been reprinted in a larger hardback format in 2006 (when it was also translated into French) and reprinted again in a smaller hardback format in 2012. It is currently being produced as an e-book for Phaidon.

Co-Edited with Craig Richardson, Face on: Photography as Social Exchange
London: Black Dog Publishing Ltd (3 Sep 2001) 72 pages.


Scott Laird, Afterimage, March/April 2002, Vol.29. Issue 5. p.15.


Tom Wood: Landscapes

A major touring exhibition supported by Arts Council Wales:

Mostyn, Llandudno, 18 January- 6 April 2014.

Ffotogallery, Cardiff, 6-27 September 2014.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 24 January-28th February 2015.


Double Take: Portraits from the Keith Medley Archive, co-curated exhibition (with Ken Grant) for the Look Festival, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (May/June 2013).

Variable Capital, Bluecoat, Liverpool, 2008. Co curated with David Campbell from Common Culture. Artists included in this group show: Wang Qingsong, Common Culture, Andy Warhol, Santiago Sierra, Hans Op de Beeck, Julian Rosefeldt, Larry Sultan and Louise Lawler.


This is America: Documentary Photographs from the 1930s and 1940s (2004-5), The Lowry, Salford. Curated exhibition including works by Ben Shahn, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott.


‘Commercial and Documentary Forms in Margaret Bourke-White’s Photography’ in M.Renn and M. Jovanovich-Kelley eds. Incorporating Culture, University of Pennsylvania. (Forthcoming 2016).

‘Memory, Archives and the Everyday: Affirmation in the Art of Daniel Blaufuks’, All the Memory of the World: part one, Lisbon: Série Foto, 2014, pp. 165-178.

Photography’s transformation in the digital age: artistic and everyday forms ’ in Gillian Youngs ed. Digital World: Connectivity, creativity and rights, (London: Routledge, 2013).

(With David Campbell) ‘Warhol Always Gives Us More: The Chelsea Girls, Melodramatic Naturalism and Controlled Distraction’ in eds., Davies. G., and Needham. G. Warhol in Ten Takes, London: BFI, 2013, pp.153-164.

‘Rituals and Rupture: The Art of Adrian Paci’ in Prefix Photo, Volume 14. Number 2. November 2013, pp. 14-27.

‘Wolfgang Tillmans: The Freedoms of Photography’, Camera Austria 122, 2013.

‘On Perfection and Affirmation in Street Photography’ in On Perfection, ed. Jo Longhurst, Intellect, 2013.

‘Dalla strada alla rete: l’estetica trasgressiva di Joachim Schmid’ in Roberta Valtorta, ed. Joachim Schmid e le fotografie degli altri. (Italy: Milan, 2012)

‘Documentary Pictorial: Luc Delahaye’s Taliban, 2001’ in Picturing Atrocity ed. Geoffrey Batchen, Mick Gidley, Nancy K. Miller and Jay Prosser (London: Reaktion, 2012).

‘Memory Works’ in Daniel Blaufuks, Works on Memory, Cardiff: Ffotogallery, 2012.

Essays on Victor Burgin, John Szarkowski and Brian O’Doherty for eds Diana Newhall and Grant Pooke, Fifty Key Texts in Art History, London: Routledge, 2012.

‘Lost for Words’ lead essay in Peter Fraser’s photobook Lost for Words, Cardiff: Ffotogallery, 2011.

Essay ‘From Life’ in Tom Wood, F/M (Feminin/Masculin) (French and English) Editions deux-cent-cinq, 2011.

‘Up Against the Wall’, Photoworks, Issue 12, 2009.

With David Campbell, ‘Armchair Romanticism’ Photoworks, Issue 10, 2008, pp.18-21.

Essays on Michael Schmidt and Chris Killip for Kate Bush ed. In the Face of History, London: Black Dog, 2006.

‘Romantic Artifice’ essay for monograph on Sophy Rickett, Göttingen: Steidl, 2005.

‘Disordering Documentary’ essay for John Goto’s Ukadia, Nottingham: Djanogly Gallery, 2003.

‘“The Poetics of Absence”’: Photography in the ‘Aftermath’ of War, essay for Paul Seawright’s Hidden, London: Imperial War Museum, 2003.

‘The Trouble with Beauty’ in Martina Mullaney: Turn In, Cardiff: Ffotogallery, 2003.

‘The Limits of Modernism: Walker Evans and James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, in ed. Paul Hansom, Literary Modernism, Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger, 2002, pp. 25-30.

‘Photography, Anonymity and the Archive: Joachim Schmid’ in Parachute 109, 2002, pp. 116-127.

‘Revulsion and Pathos: Covering the war in Afghanistan’ in Afterimage, Vol.29 No.5 March/April 2002, pp. 5-6.

‘The Authority of Authenticity: Tracey Emin’ in Parachute 105, 2001, pp.20-37.

‘Ritual and Deception: Photography and Thomas Hardy’ in Journal of European Studies, Vo.30. Part 1. No.117, March 2000, pp. 57-69.


‘Not Necessarily in the Right Order’ at New Art Exchange, Nottingham, commissioned and funded by NAE, October 2013- January 2014. Counter Culture II, a site-specific installation, National Museum Wales, Cardiff, 2011-12. The New El Dorado, HD video projection, Manifesta, Murcia, 2010/11. This commissioned video was deemed one of the stand out artworks in this art biennale. Bad faith, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, 2010.

Tales from the Trophy Room, Solar Cinematic Art Gallery, Vila do Conde, Portugal, 2009.

Grin & Bear It – Cruel humour in art and life. The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork. 20 March – 5 July 2009.

Variable Capital, the Bluecoat, Liverpool. 16 May 2008 – 29 June 2008.

OPEN / INVITED e v+ a 2008 – Too Early for Vacation. 7 March – 25 May 2008. Comic Battle Video

Common Culture, The Third Space, Belfast. 7 Dec. – 11 Jan. Pop Trauma, The Void, Derry. 28th of November to the 22nd of December. Bouncers (performance) and Local Comics (video).


UK and European Review Editor for Photography and Culture: Berg, since 2007.

Board of Directors for Open Eye, Liverpool, 2004-2007.



2015 ‘Blaufuks/Perec/Sebald’, Musea Nacional de Arte Contemporânea- Musea do Chiado Impressa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, Lisboa, Portugal.

2015 ‘On the Use of Comedy in Art as Social Critique’ (with David Campbell) for the symposium— Politics and Humour: Theory and Practice, University of Kent.

2014 Laughing my Art Off, LCC MA Photography Symposium.

2014 ‘The Idea of John Szarkowski’, International Congress On the Surface: Photography and Architecture, School of Architecture, Porto, Portugal.

2014 Photography Today, book launch event with David Campany and Sarah Jones, National Portrait Gallery, London.

2013 Peter Fraser Study Day, Tate St Ives, March 3rd 2013.

2012 ‘John Szarkowski: Writing Photography’, Postgraduate lecture, Birbeck, University of London.

2012 ‘Gravity: Atmosphere— Substance and Shadow’, Sheffield Hallam University.

2012 ‘A Crisis in Photography: Joachim Schmid’s Rogue Aesthetics’, Ciclo de Fotografia e Cinema Documental, Porto, Portugal.

2012 ‘Memory Works’ for How History Enters Photography symposium, Goethe Universitat, Frankfurt am Main.

2012 ‘Defining the Moment’, Perfection Conference, Whitechapel, London.

2012 ‘On Trying Not to Read Photographs’ for Symposium Developing Photographs, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College, Cork.

2012 ‘Szarkowski’s Modernism’, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmith’s College, University of London.

2011 ‘From Life: Tom Wood and Olga Chernysheva’, Ciclo de Fotografia e Cinema Documental, Porto, Portugal.

2011 ‘On Common Culture’, lecture, National Museum, Cardiff.

2011 The Authority of Authenticity: Tracey Emin, Hayward Gallery, London.

2011 Every Real Moment: Time in the Art of Andy Warhol, John Hansard Gallery,

2010 Artes Mundi 4, public talk on this international exhibition, Cardiff City Museum.

2010 In Conversation: Peter Fraser, Ffotogallery, Cardiff.

2010 Documentary Pictorial, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London.

2009 This is America, as part of the Rosto Transversal conference in Porto 2-6 November.

2009 An in-conversation with Professor Carol Mavor at Wolverhampton City Art Gallery, in relation to a solo show by Vered Lahav.

2009 Art Director, Global Landscape, Visual March, Prespes, University of Western Macedonia, Greece.

2009 The Stephen Bann Effect, June, University of Bristol.

2008 Photography and Consumer Culture, Fotomuseum, Antwerp.

2008 Excess and Exploitation— Transgressions Symposium, Newport, (organised and presented at this conference).

2007 Reading Photographs in Crisis, University of Leeds.

2007 On Photography Theory, Leuven, Belgium.



David Barnes
Director of Studies: Mark Durden – Title: ‘Small Stories’ – Photographer and community practice in Wales.

Daniel Blaufuks

Director of Studies: Mark Durden – Title: Photography in the works of Georges Perec and W.G. Sebald and the relation to Memory and the Holocaust (Working-title)

Alfredo Cramerotti
Director of Study: Professor Mark Durden – Title: Expanded Photography: The Hyperimage

Joao Leal
Director of Studies: Professor Mark Durden – Title: Still and Moving Image

Ameneh Mahmoodian
Director of Study: Professor Mark Durden – Title: A Comparison Between How Women have been Represented in Photographs Taken in Iran and England

George Petry
Director of Studies: Mark Durden – Title: The Vietnam War archive of Welsh Photographer Philip Jones Griffiths.

Stephen Todd
Director of Studies: Mark Durden – Title: Photography Collections of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (AC-NMW).

Areas of Expertise

Durden has an established reputation as a writer on photography and has published extensively on the subject. He has written for many journals, including Creative Camera, Photoworks, Portfolio, Next Level, Foto8, Parachute, Art Monthly, Source and Frieze. Durden is also an artist. Since 1997, as part of the artists’ group Common Culture he has exhibited regularly both nationally and internationally. Common Culture’s art work involves sculpture, performance, photography and video.

If you are a journalist on deadline and you need to speak with a member of university staff with particular expertise, please contact the Press Office.