Photography

Book Review: Susan Meiselas "Mediations"

March 26, 2018

Fundació Antoni Tàpies, where a major traveling retrospective of the photographer's work kicked off earlier this year, has released a new book with Damiani and Jeu de Paume that traces the trajectory of Susan Meiselas' work from the 1970s to the present. A member of Magnum Photos since 1976, Meiselas is best known for her early projects "Carnival Strippers" and "Prince Street Girls" and later for her work in conflict zones around the world. Using photography, film, video, and archive material, Meiselas presents a comprehensive narrative of the subjects in her work, constantly raising questions about the role of the photographer as a witness and the subject as a participant. Mediations includes essays and contributions from curators, historians, and photographic scholars, providing context for the complex ideas that Meiselas has addressed throughout her career.

Images © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos

"I have always liked that you think of the photograph as the record of an encounter," writes Eduardo Cadava in a letter to Meiselas included in the book, "between, among other things, a photographer and a subject, a subject and a context, a camera and an object, a viewer and an image, the image and history, the past and the present, and stillness and movement. To introduce a small twist into this point, I would say that one of the most significant and meaningful things staged by photography is in fact what Paul Celan once called "the secret of encounter," and especially because, in each photograph what remains hidden in it is perhaps what also made it possible. Every photograph has to be read in relation to its secrets, to all the histories that are sealed within it, even if, and perhaps especially when, they remain invisible to the image itself."

Susan Meiselas: Mediations is available in the U.S. from Artbook D.A.P.

The retrospective exhibition travels to SFMOMA this July, 2018.