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Among the pioneers of a critical revision of documentary photography, Susan Meiselas embarked on a dialectical engagement with specific moments of contemporary history through her rigorous and intense handling of the most pressing political and social issues of our time. Ethnic and religious conflicts related to borders and to gender, plus migration and rootlessness, are just some of the subjects running through her work, which tirelessly questions the role of the media and the status accorded pictures depending on the collective or subjective context in which those images are viewed. Grasping Meiselas’ approach means abandoning preconceptions that lock photography into a documentary framework, means distancing oneself from photojournalism that decontextualized reality.
This retrospective show, titled Mediations, is being hosted successively by the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona, the Jeu de Paume in Paris, and SFMOMA in San Francisco. It traces the unique career of an artist who has used photography, film, video, and archives with a relentless determination to contract narratives in which the subjects are fully involved. Many series will thus be on show, some of them in installations specially designed by the artist. They cover more than forty years of work during which Meiselas explored personal and geopolitical situations at various levels. This publication seeks to shed light on the working methods she developed.