“The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.” — Susan Meiselas

Susan Meiselas (1948, Baltimore, USA), a member of Magnum Photos since 1976, became known for her work in the conflict zones of Central America (1978–1983), and in particular for her powerful photographs of the Nicaraguan revolution. Endlessly exploring and developing narratives, she involves her subjects in her works, often working over long time spans and covering a wide range of subjects and countries, from war to human rights issues and cultural identity to the sex industry. This exhibition, entitled Mediations after an eponymous work published by Damiani in 2018, is the most comprehensive retrospective ever held in Europe, bringing together a selection of works from the 1970s to the present day. Mediations (1978–1982) is based on Meiselas’s initial experience during the popular insurrection in Nicaragua. The selection process of her images for the publication Nicaragua: June 1978–July 1979 and the use of the same photographs by the mass media left her with many questions about how images are used in different contexts. Towards the end of the 1990s, Meiselas started to use archival material that she collected, published and exhibited as part of multimedia installations, thereby giving a voice to individuals and communities subject to violence and oppression.

Meiselas often adopts different approaches to extend her work in various forms: photographic essays, installations, books or films. For example, the documents used in the book Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (1997) became an online archive of collective memory, akaKURDISTAN (1998), which is currently shown as an on-going project in the form of a “Storymap” created by contributors from the global Kurdish diaspora. Working as an editor, she initiated two collaborative projects highlighting the work of regional photographers – El Salvador: The Work of Thirty Photographers (1983) and Chile from Within (1991). The latter focused on work by photographers living under the Pinochet regime. Meiselas has also worked on four films on Nicaragua: she co-directed Living at Risk: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family (1985), Pictures from a Revolution (1991) and Reframing History (2004), and contributed to Voyages (1985).

This exhibition reveals Meiselas’s unique approach as a photographer who continuously questions the status of her images in relation to the context in which they are perceived, showing how she moves through different scales of time and conflict, ranging from the personal to the geopolitical dimension.

Co-creators: Marta Gili (former director of Jeu de Paume, Paris) and Carles Guerra (former director of Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona)
 '44 Irving Street' Self-Portrait at the entrance...
'44 Irving Street' Self-Portrait at the entrance to 'Mediations,' FOMU, Antwerp, Belgium 2023. © We Document Art.

Exhibition Locations

Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain: October 11, 2017 – January 14, 2018
Jeu de Paum
e, Paris, France: February 6 – May 20, 2018
, San Francisco, United States: July 21 - October 21, 2018
Instituto Moreira Salles
, Sao Paulo, Brazil: October 15, 2019 - February 3, 2020
Kunst Haus Wien
, Vienna, Austria: Sept 14 2021 -  Feb 13, 2022
C/O Berlin
, Berlin, Germany: April 29 – Sep 09, 2022
Kunstmuseum Magdeburg
, Germany: October 18, 2022 - January 29, 2023
FOMU - Foto Museum Antwerp
, Belgium: February 17 - June 04, 2023

MGML - The Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana
, Slovenia: June 20 - October 22, 2023


All images © Jeu de Paume, photo Raphaël Chipault, © Fundació Antoni Tàpies, photo Roberto Ruiz, © SFMOMA, photo Katherine Du Tiel, © Instituto Moreira Salles, photo Renato Parada, © C/O Berlin, photo David von Becker, © FOMU, photo We Document Art

Susan Meiselas

Susan Meiselas is a documentary photographer and President of the Magnum Foundation
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