Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Susan Meiselas

The photography of Susan Meiselas captures the political conflicts and struggles in Central America during the 1970s and 80s. What is so great about her collections is her portrayal of the struggles of her subjects. Her images seem to reconstruct history and trigger the memory of those who feel connected to the time period of the subjects.
Meiselas traveled to many places to photograph her subjects. At the age of 24, Meiselas traveled throughout New England and was extremely interested in photographing women who earned their living by performing in girl shows for carnivals hence naming her first book, Carnival Strippers, in 1976. Later in 1981, she published Nicaragua in which she captured the escalating civil war that was erupting in Nicaragua. In 2004, she returned to Nicaragua to follow-up on the aftermath of the political disruption and display mural-sized photographs to reestablish history.
One of her photos from this collection that particularly caught my attention was the photograph with a young female child in pink who stands atop the rubble that was once her home. Titled “Returning Home,” this photo was taken in Masaya in 1978 when she returns home to find it destroyed. Debris is scattered around her as she holds dusty pans and stares into the camera with a torn and disturbed visage.
Separated from her collection of political conflicts, a photo titled “End of the Road” caught my attention because of it’s solace and loneliness from the world around it. From the series called “Porch Portraits” in 1974, the photo captures in the vast distance a desolate house with one tree at each side. The house sits seemingly in the middle of nowhere and is isolated from life. Moreover, the despondent and cloudy atmosphere amplifies the melancholy and dismal feeling of loneliness.

1 comment

1 Rolanda { 12.15.08 at 9:06 pm }

I also really enjoyed this exhibit. I agree with you that her images are so moving and captivating yet some what disturbing because of their topic. The exhibit was really eye-opening to situations around the world that are not often talked about and not really known about by many.