Susan Meiselas - From the Field to the Archive
Susan Meiselas is an award winning documentary photographer based in New York. 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 documentation of human rights issues in Latin America, which were published widely throughout the world. In 1981, Pantheon published her second monograph, Nicaragua, June 1978-July 1979. Meiselas served as an editor and contributor to the book El Salvador: The work of Thirty Photographers (Writers & Readers, 1983) and edited Chile from Within (W.W. Norton, 1991) featuring work by photographers living under the Pinochet regime. She has co-directed two films: 'Living at Risk: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family' (1986) and "Pictures from a Revolution" (1991) with Richard P. Rogers and Alfred Guzzetti. In 1997, she completed a six year project curating a 100-year photographic history of Kurdistan, and integrating her own work into the book entitled Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History. Meiselas then created the website, www.akaKURDISTAN.com
, an online archive of collective memory; as well as an exhibition that was launched at the Menil Collection in Houston, and traveled over eight years to venues in the United States and Europe.
From the Field to the Archive: Susan Meiselas will focus on the book Kurdistan: in the Shadow of History, and the process of gathering historic material to give form to a collective memory from scattered fragments. For Meiselas, storytelling begins around the photograph and only through the careful weaving together of images and artefacts is a larger historical narrative revealed. Rather than producing her own pictures, Meiselas' choice was to research and repatriate images she found and place herself in a timeline of imagemakers. Oral histories, declassified government documents, newspaper clippings and memoirs detail the West’s encounters with the Kurds over the last century, through the multiple perspectives of travelers, missionaries, colonial administrators, anthropologists, journalists, as well as the Kurds themselves. She will discuss her collaboration with the Kurdish community in the making of her book, its design strategy and the evolution of the website, akaKURDISTAN, a virtual archive of cultural exchange for a dispersed people with no physical national archive.