Susan Meiselas – Photographer, On the Frontline

Nicaragua by Susan Meiselas

Susan Meiselas the Magnum photographer was a huge influence on my infant photographer self. Her book Nicaragua is, for me, a complete document, a template for any photographer thinking of covering a revolution. First lesson: To cover it, you have to live it. She has lived many revolutions, and stories. I didn’t know that she started life as a teacher and now teaches with the Magnum Foundation social justice program helping to answer questions by young photographers.

Her suggestion – In terms of training — which I didn’t have the opportunity for when I was that age — I think a program like the Interactive Telecommunications Program at N.Y.U. is exciting. If I were to go on as a graduate student, that’s where I think I would have found the edge in thinking that changes us or challenges us to think about new ways of relating through the photographic image, or connecting inward in maybe even more surprising ways.

There are two books out about Meiselas, On the Frontline

“This landmark book offers a synthesis of celebrated Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas’s views on her work and the role of the documentary photographer. Through text drawn largely from exclusive interviews with editor Mark Holborn, she offers a remarkable commentary on her career, from early work with carnival strippers, through groundbreaking reportage on Nicaragua and El Salvador, to projects encompassing subjects as varied as the Dani tribe of Indonesia, the Kurds of Northern Iraq and victims of domestic violence in California. Central to Meiselas’s work are themes of collaboration, return and exchange.

With over 110 photographs – some classics, others rarely published – this book demonstrates how the frontline on which Meiselas has worked involves a bearing of witness and a gathering of evidence. As Meiselas has stated: ‘To continue on is to be curious – to be compelled to confront, to examine, to expose, to engage, and not know where you will end up or how the journey will change you. The frontline is always a choice.’

‘With the publication of [this] new book, Meiselas’s extraordinary feats are brought back to the forefront of popular consciousness, where they deserve to stay’
AnOther Magazine

‘Meiselas doesn’t spare us the details, instead she focuses us in on them and there is to be no avoiding the truth. She has a message and she delivers it in the most powerful way she knows – through her photographs’
Black and White Photography

This from an interview in the New York Times

n “Mediations,” other people are writing about you, and “On the Frontline” has text from a conversation between you and Mark Holborn.

The two books came out almost simultaneously in the past year, but they’re completely different. “Mediations” is the catalog for the recent show at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and is going to be at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this month. It’s not so much a catalog in the classic sense of showing the work on exhibit as it is focusing on the ideas in the show. “On the Frontline” is about process and being a documentary photographer.

It’s interesting because you become an object, your life becomes an object, in two very different ways. One comes from a conversation where I’m speaking with Mark about my own process. And the other has other people writing about you. I’m present through the photographs, but it’s their reflection on my work.

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