Susan Meiselas (born in 1948 in the USA) is an acclaimed freelance photographer, best known for her images of the uprising in Nicaragua and her documentation of human rights in Latin America. Meiselas has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1976.
Photographs, 1982 (on display until September 4, 2017)
Susan Meiselas’s work Mediations is based on her book about the revolution in Nicaragua 1978–79. The completion of the book left Meiselas with many questions about her own process of selection and the extent to which it differed from the use of her photographs in the mass media.
Mediations explore the contrast and interaction between a historical process and how its images are appropriated. It also reflects how photographs can become iconic symbols used globally to represent a historical event. Each line corresponds with the selection process – what is absent is as significant as what is present. The installation can therefore be read vertically, as stages in a publishing process, and seen horizontally, as a narrative portraying the making of history as fragments of an experience.
The central narrative line consists of pages from the book. Seen together they synthesize the narrative, each individually transcending the particular. They can then be seen as ‘Art’ and the original prints are valued, exhibited, and sold.
Above the central narrative line are magazine tear sheets that used Meiselas’s work. These tend to compress history and reduce the process to dramatic rather than everyday moments. The exotic, symbolic, and violent become thematic. How photographs are read and understood by the viewer is largely defined by the magazines, which alter and may betray the photographers’ meaning.
Below the narrative line are the ‘rejects’ consisting of color Xeroxes. By showing these outtakes, the complexity of each moment is more accurately represented, giving the sense of the flow of life from which frames capture motion.