PODCAST: A Photographic Life, Episode 25: Plus Photographer Susan Meiselas

In episode 25 UNP founder and curator Grant Scott is considering why so much online photographic discussion is filled with absolutes and anger, whilst also commenting on the current state of photography magazines and their relationship with their readers and the photographic industry.

Plus this week Grant re-visits a recorded conversation with legendary photographer Susan Meiselas from 2013 in which she addresses the importance of narrative in visual storytelling, the utilisation of multi-media, what photography means to her and her belief in young photographers and what they need to do within the medium.

Susan Meiselas was born in Baltimore, in 1948. Her first major photographic essay focused on the lives of women doing striptease at New England country fairs, who she photographed during three consecutive summers while teaching photography in New York public schools. Carnival Strippers was originally published in 1976 and a selection was installed at the Whitney Museum of Art in June 2000.

Meiselas joined Magnum Photos in 1976 and has worked as a freelance photographer since then. She is best known for her coverage of the insurrection in Nicaragua and her extensive documentation of human rights issues in Latin America. She published her second monograph, Nicaragua, June 1978–July 1979, in 1981.

Meiselas served as an editor and contributor to the book El Salvador: The Work of Thirty Photographers (1983) and edited Chile from Within (1991) featuring work by photographers living under the Pinochet regime, as well as an updated ebook on the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup (2013). She has co-directed three films, Living at Risk: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family (1986); Pictures from a Revolution (1991) with Richard P. Rogers and Alfred Guzzetti where she searched for the people in her photographs ten years after they were taken and Re-framing History (2004) where she returned to Nicaragua again with 19 murals to place them in the landscape where they were first made to again interrogate the history they represent on the 25th anniversary of the Revolution.

In 1997, she completed a six-year project curating a hundred-year photographic history of Kurdistan, integrating her own work into the book Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (1997) along with the pioneering website akaKURDISTAN (1998), an online archive of collective memory and cultural exchange.

Her 2001 monograph Pandora’s Box (2001) which explores a New York S & M club, has been exhibited both at home and abroad. The 2003 book and exhibition Encounters with the Dani documents a sixty-year history of outsiders’ discovery and interactions with the Dani, an indigenous people of the highlands of Papua in Indonesia. Her retrospective book and exhibition In History (2008) was produced with the International Center for Photography, New York and Steidl.

Her most recent project A Room Of Their Own (2015-2016) explores the experiences of women in a refuge in the Black Country UK. A Room Of Their Own was published by Multistory in 2017.

Meiselas has had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and her work is included in collections around the world. She has received the Robert Capa Gold Medal for her work in Nicaragua (1979); the Leica Award for Excellence (1982); the Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art (1985); the Hasselblad Foundation Photography prize (1994); the Cornell Capa Infinity Award (2005); the Harvard Arts Medal (2011) and most recently was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015). www.susanmeiselas.com


You can also access and subscribe to these podcasts at SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/unofphoto

and on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/a-photographic-life/id1380344701

Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer in Professional Photography at the University of Gloucestershire, a working photographer, and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Focal Press 2014) and The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Focal Press 2015). His next book #New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography will be published by Bloomsbury Academic in January 2019.

His documentary film, Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay will be screened across the UK and the US in 2018.

© Grant Scott 2018

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