As a new, traveling retrospective honors Susan Meiselas's work, she speaks to PDN about the evolution of her approach to her subjects, mixing personal and assignment work, and providing opportunities to the next generation.
In On the Frontline, her new book published by Aperture, influential photographer Susan Meiselas provides an insightful personal commentary on the trajectory of her career—on her ideas and processes, and her decisions as a photographer. Applying a sociological training to the practice of witness journalism, she compares her process to that of an archaeologist, piecing together shards of evidence to build a three-dimensional cultural understanding of her subjects.
Susan Meiselas was there during the last years of the conflict (1978-79). Meiselas’ photographs capture the Sandinista’s and the Nicaraguan people’s struggle for freedom – depicting battle, lost lives, collateral damage, and ultimately victory – as they overcame the military might and power of the Somoza regime
With radical and varied visual responses, the ten photographers in this edition of Moving Walls take a long view of the question of surveillance. The thematic curation orchestrated by Yukiko Yamagata, Susan Meiselas and Stuart Alexander reflects on the scope of documentary photography and the universal means available to decipher the most critical issues of our times - times when, as Mari Bastashevski remarked, there is no real difference in the ways power is managed in the East and West.
You need people who believe that it is still important to see what is going on in the world at whatever level that means. You know, I never thought about it in terms of ‘news’. What we used to do very well was anticipate. I mean, that’s really important to think about. We had to anticipate, because it took weeks or months for publications to prepare to go to print. In fact, even that’s part of the reason I personally never worked for National Geographic. For me, the difficulty of Geographic was that the anticipation cycle was so long. So if I was working on a timely subject, I wanted to see the publication in relation to the production in a closer cycle. And Geographic was so extended; it might be six months or a year after you did the work that you would see it in print. So it didn’t seem optimal or advantageous for the kind of work I was doing at that time. It was a more reflective space lets say.
Now, that’s a very valuable space; to have the opportunity to be more reflective and not have to be as immediate which is what this new medium has created and now demands in some ways. This intensity that we have to produce and deliver and disseminate instantaneously — so that there is no time for reflection. The MF’s Magnum Emergency Fund is trying to create a margin in which photographers can still have a degree of independence to reflect and create work
Ten Magnum photographers will be working in Rochester. Two of these photographers have already gotten started. A couple weeks ago, Alessandra Sanguinetti and Jim Goldberg picked up Uncle Jackson in Oakland and began driving to Rochester. You can see some pictures from their trip here.
On their way, Alessandra and Jim picked me up in Minnesota. Later today we’ll be joining Bruce Gilden, Susan Meiselas, Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Larry Towell, Alex Webb, and Donovan Wylie in Rochester. For two weeks we’ll be living together and working together.
Magnum Photographers Alec Soth, Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Paolo Pellegrin, Mikhael Subotsky, and writer Ginger Strand are a bunch of friends going on a homespun adventure; a two week road trip, from May 11-26, across America. Rather than a super group on a stadium tour, the Postcards From America trip will be more in the spirit of a band going back to a small venue tour — a tour where they have to drive their own van and haul their own gear.
As the EF announced the latest round of photographers it would be supporting, LightBox spoke to Magnum Foundation President and photographer Susan Meiselas who heads up the EF, about its mission, and the challenges facing documentary photography today.
This May, I’m going to be joining four other photographers (Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Chris Anderson, Mikhael Subotzky) and the writer Ginger Strand for a two week road trip from San Antonio to Oakland.
This is a unique project for Magnum. We are working collaboratively and are hoping to engage much more directly with our audience. At the beginning of the trip we will be doing a public event at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin. And at the end we’re going to do a pop-up exhibition somewhere in Oakland.
I don't go in with a concept, the concept evolves and becomes self-evident at a certain moment in the process. In time one accumulates ideas of what's possible. With each of my projects I've come to the idea of what they should be in the midst of them. This has been so from early projects like 'Carnival Strippers' right up to 'Encounters with the Dani'. And of course very often, between shows and books, they have slightly different forms.