This is America: Documentary Photographs from the 1930's and 1940's
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Durden was invited to curate this major exhibition of 250 Farm Security Administration and related documentary photographs for The Lowry in Salford. It is the most comprehensive show of such photography in Britain in the last two decades. The exhibition included a diverse range of iconic and lesser-known photographs by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, Margaret Bourke-White, Marion Post Wolcott, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein and Ben Shahn. One key theme of the show concerned the way a number of these photographers critically exposed the racism of American culture. Parks’s portrait of the black cleaner, Ella Watson, posed against the Stars and Stripes, was the provocative focal point of the show and the counterpoint to Lange’s more well-known Migrant Mother. The exhibition also introduced the less familiar FSA colour work of Post Wolcott and Russell Lee. This is America was reviewed extensively— The Independent, Manchester Evening News, City Life, Metro, Source, Red Eye, and The Times. Durden was also interviewed for Radio Four Woman’s Hour and Radio Three’s Night Waves. He contributed an article for Portfolio on Gordon Parks in connection with the exhibition and presented papers on the show for the IPRN Symposium, Work, University of Sunderland, 2005; Goldsmiths, 2006; West Surrey Institute of Art and Design, 2005 and University of Ulster, 2005. He also gave a paper at the Photographers’ Gallery in January 2007 in response to their small show of FSA colour. This is America also stems from Durden’s monograph on Dorothea Lange, Phaidon 2001, ISBN: 10: 071484053X, pp. 128, reprinted in a new hardback and larger format in 2006, ISBN-10: 0714846198. In connection with the FSA, Durden has also contributed an essay on Walker Evans to Paul Hanson ed. Literary Modernism and Photography, Westport, Connecticut, London: Praeger, 2003.
The Lowry, Salford, pp.250
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