Susan Meiselas (b.1948, USA) has followed the traces of breached human rights in several continents through different periods. A member of Magnum Photos since 1976, she recorded the violent political frictions of the late seventies in South and Central America, most notably the Nicaraguan revolution and Chilean Pinochet years. Her inclusive photojournalistic methods led her to numerous collaborations with local photographers in projects such as El Salvador: The Work of Thirty Photographers (1983) and Chile from Within (1991).
Besides covering conflicts and uprisings, a lot of Susan’s work details the lives of women and the strife they face; projects such as Archives of Abuse, A Room Of Their Own (2017) and Mail-a-Bride (1986) explore domestic abuse, incarcerated women, and mail order brides. In Carnival Strippers (1976) and Pandora’s Box (2001), the consequences of patriarchal society are painfully revealed as Susan explores power dynamics among sex workers in the USA.
Despite often working outside of her native environment, Susan develops strong relationships with her subjects. Continually questioning the impact of photography and visual representation, she is a strong supporter of participatory documentary, frequently involving whole communities in the process of recording and editing. Turning the book Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (1997) into an interactive online space, akaKURDISTAN (1998), she initiated an archive of collective Kurdish memory, an invaluable document for the prosecuted minority.
Swiftly moving between diverse mediums such as photo essays, installations, films, books, and even murals, she is always searching for inclusion – whether it be in dimensions of time, space or society. The recipient of MacArthur (1992) and Guggenheim (2015) fellowships, Susan has also been awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize (2019) and the Women in Motion Award from Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles (2019). Her photographs are permanently exhibited in numerous institutions, such as Art Institute of Chicago, Fogg Museum, Library of Congress, and MoMA.
By Petra Godesa