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 Post subject: Susan Meiselas with Women in Refuge, A Room of Their Own
Unread postPosted: Tue May 08, 2018 4:00 pm 
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A Room of Their Own is the published result of a collaborative project that exemplifies the expansive definition of documentary photography practiced by Susan Meiselas. The subject is a woman's refuge in the Black Country, described as a "multi-ethnic, post-industrial" region in West Midlands, UK. Rather than gaining access to the refuge, taking photographs and publishing them in book form, Meiselas sought to "...create a multi-layered form that stitched together disparate elements to portray this private world with a collective expression of authentic voices." Working with Multistory (a local community arts company) and others, Meiselas and several colleagues explored the refuge experience "...from the time it begins in 'a room of their own'." This necessarily had to be carried out without visual identification of the people and places making up the refuge network.
The women and children in refuge who participated in the project contributed handwritten texts and artwork, telling their individual stories in their own words with the help of a local writer and a local artist-illustrator. Two digital assistants led a visual diary workshop, in which personal snapshots, collage and writing combined to produce albums representing the women's day-to-day lives. Eventually Meiselas was invited, first into one woman's room, then into others. Her photographs of these private spaces and her accompanying text forms an affecting, at times haunting structure to the book. Together, photographs, artwork and words create a vivid expression of the lives these women and their children lead in a temporary place between the abuse and fear they left and the place or places they will go to next.
A Room of Their Own, by Susan Meiselas with women in refuge (2017), Multistory, 204 pages, cloth.

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