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 Post subject: Susan Meiselas, Mediations
Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 4:51 pm 
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[/i]From the very start of her photographic career, Susan Meiselas has pushed the boundaries of documentary photography. In particular, she has explored the idea of context to such a degree that it does not do her justice to identify her only as a photographer. Starting with a project (44 Irving Street, 1971) in which she photographed the people living in the same boarding house when she was a graduate student at Harvard, Meiselas examined the relationship of people to their living spaces. Including in her project written comments from some of the people she photographed, some of the perceived or imagined relationships among the tenants expanded the project's scope. Her subsequent projects built on that foundational approach, further expanding the exploration of context as she spent longer periods getting to know her subjects, gaining their trust, and letting their daily lives inform and shape the photography. At the same time, she approaches the photographer-subject relationship as a cycle, in which the photographs are not to exploit, but rather to establish a connection in which the photographer gives back to her subjects. By mid-career, Meiselas engaged others besides the subjects to expand both the context of her projects and the means by which her work serves the interests of her subjects.
Mediations is the catalog of a retrospective exhibition of four decades of photography in which Meiselas has hugely expanded the concept of documentary photography. From 44 Irving Street to her study of women and children in refuge in the UK Midlands, A Room of Their Own, (2017), the 184-page hardbound catalog includes 8 critical essays on her work, a career chronology, a list of exhibitions, and a bibliography.
For a photographer beginning a new project, or contemplating working with a charitable or public interest organization, I could hardly recommend a more thought-provoking, challenging book. For anyone interested in how documentary photography has been redefined and redirected by this important artist/teacher, this book is essential.
Mediations (2018), published by Fundacio Antonio Tapies, Jeu de Paume, and Damiani.


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