Deirdre MacKenna is a researcher, curator and director of cultural programs, specialising in photography as a potent and progressive medium in contemporary art and society.  Born in Scotland, she studied at Edinburgh College of Art and the State University of New York, Purchase, USA.  Until December 2013 she was Director of Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, establishing it as ‘Scotland’s Centre for Photography’ ( and she continues her work with Stills, leading the photographic archive in collaboration with St. Andrews University and Drummond Community High School.  In 2009 MacKenna launched the programme Cultural Documents to explore how visual art can represent transformation in society, and particularly the phenomenon of human migration. Through experimentation in programme-making and commissioning, Cultural Documents’ methods integrate research throughout production processes and produce outcomes in the form of archives, artworks, publications and events.  MacKenna is curator and steering group member of Transnationalising Languages, an Arts and Humanities Research Council Translating Cultures project led by the Universities of St. Andrews, Bristol and Warwick (2013 – 2016). The project aims to forge a new framework for the academic discipline of modern languages through the interaction of languages and cultures. As project curator MacKenna will explore language change through the management of an artists’ residency and series of exhibitions in the UK, Italy, Australia and Argentina.  MacKenna is an Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Dundee’s Rewind Italia project where she is also undertaking a doctoral study entitled Building context: curatorial strategies and programme making. The study explores programme-making strategies, ownership of the processes and outcomes, and the criteria and measurements of cultural value as perceived by participants, investors and producers.


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25th and 26th January 2014