Susan Meiselas is a documentary photographer who lives and works in New York. She is the author of Carnival Strippers
(1981), Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History
(1997), Pandora's Box
(2001), Encounters with the Dani
(2003) Prince Street Girls
(2016), A Room Of Their Own
(2017) and Tar Beach
(2020). She has co-edited two published collections: El Salvador, Work of 30 Photographers
(1983) and Chile from Within
(1990), rereleased as an e-book in 2013, and also co-directed two films: Living at Risk
(1985) and Pictures from a Revolution
(1991) with Richard P. Rogers
and Alfred Guzzetti
Meiselas is well known for her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America. Her photographs are included in North American and international collections. In 1992 she was made a MacArthur Fellow, received a Guggenheim Fellowship
(2015), and most recently the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize
(2019) and the first Women in Motion Award from Kering and the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie
d'Arles. Mediations, a survey exhibition of her work from the 1970s to present was recently exhibited at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Jeu de Paume, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
and the Instituto Moreira Salles in São Paulo.
She has been the President of the Magnum Foundation
since 2007, which supports, trains, and mentors the next generation of in-depth documentary photographers and innovative practice.
Susan Meiselas became known through her photo reportages on the Nicaraguan revolution. From 1978 to 1982 she documented the uprising of the Sandinistas against the then president Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Some of her photographs, foremost among them the “Molotov Man”
, became iconic media images and shaped the way the Latin American revolution was perceived in the West.
About Carnival Strippers
The role of women has been a focal point of Meiselas’ work ever since the 1970s. In her first major photographic essay entitled Carnival Strippers
(1972-1975), she showcased the working conditions of women who earned a living working as strippers at fairs in New England. She combined her photographs with audio recordings of the women, their clients, and their managers. In this project Meiselas depicts the reality of life for these protagonists and lets them tell their own stories, thereby strengthening their feeling of self-worth and their personal identity.
About Prince Street Girls
For the series Prince Street Girls
, she accompanied young girls in Little Italy, New York City over a period of seventeen years - from childhood to puberty and on into adulthood. The photographs illustrate the gradual changes in their lives, their bodies, and their place within society.
About Archive of Abuse
In her series Archive of Abuse
Susan Meiselas addressed the issue of domestic abuse. In the early 1990s, the photographer was invited to support an awareness-raising campaign in San Francisco on the subject of domestic violence. Meiselas used material from police reports to focus on documenting the crimes, both visually and in text. The collages created in this way were posted in public spaces to raise people’s awareness of the many different forms of violence towards women as a structural phenomenon.
Meiselas’ starting point for her long-term project Kurdistan
was the documentation of the genocide perpetrated against the Kurds by the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein in northern Iraq in 1988. She created an archive that preserves a people’s cultural memory and the chequered history of the Kurdish diaspora. The multimedia project comprises photographs, videos, documents, and oral accounts compiled by the artist over a period of more than thirty years.
Source: Kunst Haus Wien