Virtual Member Preview Conversation: Susan Meiselas: Through a Woman’s Lens

Good evening, everyone I’m Margaret Andera, the interim chief curator and curator of contemporary art at the Milwaukee Art Museum After months of anticipation, I am pleased to welcome you all tonight as we open the exhibition “Susan Meiselas: Through a Woman’s Lens” here at the Milwaukee Art Museum Though I cannot see all of you in our audience this evening, I’m so glad you have joined us for our first virtual exhibition opening We are grateful for your support as members, which allows us to offer programs that engage the community, conduct conservation and scholarship around the remarkable works in the museum’s collection, create educational resources for students from kindergarten to aspiring art historians and host exhibitions like the one we’re celebrating tonight Now, more than ever, thank you for your support and making everything this institution does possible This evening, we are joined by artist Susan Meiselas and Lisa Sutcliffe, the curator of Susan Meiselas: Through a Woman’s Lens Lisa is the Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts here at the Milwaukee Art Museum Previously, she served as assistant curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and curatorial fellow at the de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts She holds an M.A in the History of Art from Boston University, where she specialized in the history of photography and a B.A in art history from Wellesley College Lisa has organized numerous exhibitions since joining the Milwaukee Art Museum, including “Sara Cwynar: Image Model Muse,” “The San Quentin Project: Nigel Poor and the Men of San Quentin State Prison,” “Rineke Dijkstra: Rehearsals,” “Penelope Umbrico: Future Perfect,” among many others Susan Meiselas, an American photographer born in 1948, has spent nearly five decades documenting human stories as a member of the international photographic cooperative Magnum Photos Since 1976, Meiselas works in a participatory manner that honors her collaborators and the people she photographs She often builds relationships and deep connections to bring their voices to the fore For Meiselas, this process of immersion is key to approaching the people she works with, understanding their perspectives and making pictures that reveal complicated truths This close attention to the relationships she builds reflects her understanding of the responsibility of connecting the people in her photographs to a broader audience and her longstanding interest in interrogating the ethics of seeing In 2019, Meiselas received the Deutsche Boerse Photography Foundation prize for her survey show, “Mediations,” which was organized with the Jeu de Palme in Paris and later traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art She has received numerous other awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1992 This exhibition, “Susan Meiselas: Through a Woman’s Lens,” presents never before shown photographs alongside iconic series that reflect the artist’s ongoing commitment to sharing the stories of women Susan’s work seeks to bear witness to the stories that might otherwise go unnoticed Before I hand the evening over to Lisa and Susan for what is sure to be an engaging and insightful conversation, I want to thank everyone who came together to make this exhibition possible from the Milwaukee Art Museum I first want to thank Lisa Sutcliffe, who has navigated the unchartered waters of curating and exhibition during the time of COVID-19 Thank you for your perseverance and dedication to this project, Lisa Thanks also to Ariel Pate, assistant curator of photography, for her heroic efforts in support of every aspect of the exhibition to David Rusick, the museum’s chief designer, for his work on the exhibition installation to our Virtual Experience Team, Dustin Dupree and Ted Bruce of artists who created the beautiful three hundred and sixty degree virtual experience of the exhibition and to staff from nearly every department across the institution We also extend our gratitude to Susan for remaining flexible and committed to this presentation at the museum as we navigated the impact of COVID-19 on our exhibition schedule

Susan also worked tirelessly with Lisa to record over six hours of audio to support the virtual exhibition and audio guide, thanks also to Susan’s studio team, Luciano Picciotto and Jessica Biel, for their for their assistance Thank you to Susan, to Susan’s collaborators, some of whom allowed us to interview them for their virtual tour and who join us this evening to Magnum photographs for their collaboration and to Pauline Vermaak for her guidance and support and to the lenders to the exhibition for sharing their works of art with us Thank you to the sponsors of the exhibition, first and foremost, we want to thank the Herzfeld Foundation, the curatorial support for and exhibitions in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts are possible with your support Thank you to our supporting sponsor, Northern Trust, our contributing sponsor, David S. and Sara Jean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation And thank you to our community partners, Lotus Legal and Sojourner Family Peace Center We also want to thank the museum’s Visionaries The Visionaries are a very special group of donors that underwrite the year of exhibitions, allowing us to look more broadly at our exhibition schedule, as well as the connections between exhibitions, programs and the community A special thank you for the steadfast support of Donald and Donna Baumgartner, John and Murph Burke, Sheldon and Marianne Lubar, Joel and Karen Quadracci, Sue and Bud Selig and Jeff Yabuki and the Yabuki Family Foundation And again, thanks to all of you It is the unwavering support and involvement of our members that makes so much possible And now I will hand the program over to Lisa Lisa Thank you so much, Margaret Hello, I’m Lisa Sutcliffe Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts at the Milwaukee Art Museum. And I want to echo Margaret’s thanks to our sponsors, lenders and members And thank you all so much for joining me tonight for what I hope will be an engaging conversation with a true feminist icon, Susan Meiselas 2020 marks the one 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote And so it is an opportune moment to honor and examine the legacy of Susan Meiselas, a woman whose commitment to collaborative practice has made such an enduring mark on photography Meiselas is not just a photographer, but an important voice and mentor in the field, collaboration is central, not only to her practice but to her working process and indeed her way of living As the president of the Magnum Foundation, she has mentored and supported a new generation of diverse photographic voices And as an artist, she continually returns to conversation with the people she photographed, whether she has known them for 50 years or five minutes As her collaborator on this exhibition over the past few years, I have the honor to attest that she is a generous partner and a true joy to work with when this exhibition was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic Rather than seeing this as a challenge, we began to envision the opportunities a virtual tour might offer And we spent the past six months combing Susan’s archive to create an experience that provides an opportunity to examine her photographic career more deeply, to hear from the artist, the people she photographed and her collaborators, examine related publications and ephemera and watch historical films and interviews that provide context for the artist process You should have all received a link to the virtual tour, which will be made available to the public on the museum’s website tomorrow, December 4th After tonight’s conversation, Susan and I will show you how to navigate this virtual experience And for us, the creation of this tour has been a real silver lining in a challenging year And I hope you will enjoy exploring everything it has to offer Susan and I deliberated the title of this exhibition, and I think we were both somewhat uncomfortable with it, but I’d like to use it as a way in which to consider her perspective as we examine both her photographic and collaborative practice and discover how she ultimately sought to move beyond being defined as a woman photographing women This exhibition focuses on an aspect of the early period of Susan’s work, in which, guided by her own intuition, she focused on the lives and perspectives of women on the edges of the mainstream narratives that might have been otherwise overlooked Many of the pictures taken in the 197s record the moment during which they were made when women were asking important questions about gender equality in their roles in the home, in politics and in the world From sorority girls and strippers and beauty queens to boxers and delegates, these women shatter the narrow spectrum of female representation that predominated in visual culture Together, the pictures present a portrait not only of a woman and not only a women at the time, but also of an artist

coming of age during the women’s movement who understood the challenges women faced, including the structures that limited their opportunities The exhibition considers this period as a foundation for her documentary practice, grounded in collaboration and immersion and for her constant exploration of how photography might act as a platform to bring the stories not just of women, but of people on the periphery to a larger audience Most exciting for me is the presentation of photographs that have never been seen before and an opportunity to discuss them more in depth this evening So before we get started, I want to ask you to change the way you’re using Zoom to a side by side gallery view, which will be optimal for viewing our conversation and to remind you that if you have questions, you can leave them in the question and answer box at the bottom of your screen and we will have a question and answer period following our conversation And now it is my pleasure to invite Susan Meiselas to join us Hi, Susan Hi, Lisa So I’m going to share my screen OK, so, Susan, I’m so thrilled to have a chance to talk to you tonight, and for me, I think one of the most exciting things about putting this exhibition together was the chance to unearth some of the photographs from your archive that I had never seen before and I didn’t know about And so I’m just going to show a few of them here, in particular this photograph that you took in New York during the DNC in nineteen seventy six, when, of course, the ERA was something that was being discussed And it’s interesting to consider that given that Milwaukee was meant to be the host of the DNC this summer, which of course didn’t happen due to COVID But if you visit that the virtual exhibition on our website, you will get to hear Susan talk a little bit about this image and also about its relationship to her at that time And so I do hope —we’re not going to have a chance to talk about everything tonight—But I do hope that everyone who is watching will spend some time listening to Susan talk about all of these pictures in depth in our virtual tour So one of the things about this era of photographs that was so interesting to me, these pictures that you took in the 1970s and 1980s, was how you were interested in how women were defining themselves And I think in particular, the way they use their bodies or presented their bodies On the left is a photograph from a Miss Nude competition in Atlantic City in nineteen seventy six. So right around the same time, you are making your well-known series, Carnival Strippers. And to me, it’s a picture that really kind of evokes the idea of patriarchy, that you have these women on stage in a sort of cookie cutter kind of body shape with their tan lines and then in front of them, they have this kind of hulking guy with his tie and his his cigarette dangling just in the sort of the lights of the orchestra almost And then interesting to compare that to the picture on the right of the bodybuilders who are interested in their bodies in a very different kind of way And then the other pictures from earlier in the exhibition are these pictures from the 70s on the left, a sorority in Madison, Wisconsin, and on the right backstage at the Miss Nude Competition And so one of the things I began to notice in looking at these pictures was this interest you had that was almost ethnographic in social rituals and in the way women prepare themselves for presentation and for performance, which I think is something we’ll talk about quite a bit this evening as we’ve as we look it at your pictures And then that brings us to the sort of question, the central question, I think that you ask in photography, which is the role of of sort of relationship, of building the role of building a relationship when you make a portrait And so these are pictures you made in Marrakech And I wonder if you want to tell us a little bit about the making of these pictures and the questions that that led you to making them I just want to give everyone a sense of what they come from. This is an installation view from “20 dirhams or 1 photo?” which was installed in Marrakech But you can see here two details One woman who is the older face and one of the woman who has not But you’re asking a really central question about portraiture in this in this series. And I wonder if you want to talk a little bit about that Yeah, I think, you know, to begin, it’s it’s this question of whether or not a

photograph is a record of a relationship So in a way, this series is partly a record of my inability when I landed in Marrakesh to make a connection to people initially and feeling as if I was I was like any other tourist And it wasn’t so clear that that they wanted photographs to be made, in fact So the tension about the act of photography brought me into a kind of different way of working, which was I set up an open air kind of salon and with two young married women from Morocco who were assisting me in the spice market, the women’s spice market in the center of Marrakesh And we were asking the question of whether or not people, these women wanted a photograph of a photograph itself was a value to them, the object of a photograph or whether or not they wanted to be and they wanted to be paid essentially to have a photograph made of them And so the installation, if you go back to that view, records the relationship in reverse In other words, the photographs you see on the wall are those that I paid for and they in exchange, offered the photograph for the gallery view And when you see the money on the wall, that’s the amount of money would cause to make an essentially an ID photo in a local studio And so the money remains on the wall, meaning with me, and they receive the photograph So you can see that right away It puts in question that kind of a transaction Who who is a photograph for what’s its value, not just economic value, but its social psychological That’s a question that I go on asking Who does it live for? Who lives within it? How crude exchange is it and what is exchanged in the making of a portrait? Exactly, and that little blackboard on the right was in Arabic explaining they had to choose before we made the photographs They had to choose whether or not they wanted the photograph or they wanted the 20 dirhams So that that was just a kind of experiment for a day And I think it’s interesting and in relation to what the pictures I was talking about earlier, that there’s a sense of you kind of finding these women who interest you in certain ways because they’re either bodybuilders or they are in a miss nude competition. But in some way, they’re sort of testing the boundaries of what’s expected of women versus going to a place where taking a picture of a woman can be problematic and figuring out ways to do that, that feel interesting, that you’re asking questions that are relevant to them and offering them a service in a way Well, I’m also asking them to make a choice about participating or not participating and the ways in which they participate and whether they’re covered or uncovered, of course, is the full variation of what you might find America at that time But I think the important thing is it’s an act of choice And I think that’s that’s the point of intersection You know, the photograph is that juncture point where we come together It bridges us and it also separates us And I think the idea of a bridge is an important one. And before we move on, I just want to mention that within the virtual tour, we did interview your collaborators, Imane Barakat and Laila Hida So I hope that our audience members will spend some time listening to them, because I think a true point of of this exhibition of your work is that you are a collaborator and that you bring people into that process And so I do hope people will go and listen to that But speaking of the idea of a bridge, I want to sort of bring us to this self-portrait that you made when you were living in Cambridge and at Harvard University and graduate school, where you used four by five camera to make portraits in the room, the boarding house where you were living at the time But I think that this self-portrait really sets the stage for who you are as a photographer. And and the idea of a bridge is one that I would sort of prompt you with here. And and what you see when you look at this picture, maybe if you can even recall what you were thinking when you made it Of course I can’t I’d forgotten totally I’d made the photograph until we rediscovered it some time ago. I think, you know, this sense of I I was part of 44 Irving Street It was a boarding house I didn’t know my neighbors very well, so I wanted to be present among them, even though we didn’t know each other But I think, you know, what this suggests is a kind of physical and an absence

and a presence. What I think the if I’m thinking it’s also a psychological state of mind, you know, I’m both I’m I’m not trying to be in myself. I’m trying to be connecting to others And somehow I don’t know why this picture just stands symbolically for that very tenuous state of mind and state of being that I think is central to all of my work, really So I’m not in denial that I’m present, but I don’t want the work to be about me. It, of course, is a reflection of me It’s my obsessions It’s my curiosities that lead me places But I want also to be that bridge to other people, connecting to others And in a way, it’s a portrait of the transparency that’s necessary for immersion and for really becoming a vehicle for the voice of your subject, which I think is something that is very important to to your process So the pictures from 44 Irving Street are also about what a photograph lacks in a way And so there’s the central question you’re asking. You take these portraits, but then how do you get the voice of the subject? So I wonder if you want to talk a little bit about about what we’re seeing here I actually wasn’t I wasn’t using the word “voice” because, of course, this is written But I think the question was, how am I seeing you and how do you see yourself differently than I or the camera sees you, portrays you This is Joan. And I still remember the moment that she wanted to look through the lens to see what the landscape was going to be and wanted to make sure her guitar was in the picture And I’m under a black cape seeing the image upside down I mean, it was the first time I’d used a four by five and probably the last, actually And so when I brought the contact sheet back to to Joan, she began writing about just “this was and wasn’t You know, I don’t think the photo of me really gives the essence of me.” There she is, writing that. And I felt that claim that that was the act of inclusion You know, that was the exchange just to understand what I was doing and and how someone else might feel about it So this is all interconnected, of course, even though they’re decades separating Marrakesh and 44 Irving Street. And when I’m making these photographs, I have no idea I’ll be a photographer in for that many decades, for sure And it’s a it’s a way in which you still work today, I mean, even the title wall of the exhibition is all the notebooks you carried with you for all of your projects I mean, I think it’s something that reflects your interest in recording as well as the words as much as the images And that brings us to the role of education, and I think you were working in the Bronx and you went down to South Carolina to be an artist in residence and were teaching and made these pictures, which I’m not sure many people know about, but they’re from a series called Porches And you do you want to talk a little bit about what brought you there and why you started making these pictures? These are the—these are the afternoons after school, you know, school, so I’m teaching in elementary school and Rock Hill, South Carolina, and then later in Mississippi as well So I had no idea how the kids in my class were living And of course, in many cases there was no running water These are not necessarily my students, but they’re part of the families of some of my students So I think it was just a natural progression to move out from the classroom in that part of what I was teaching was with Schuba pinhole cameras and Polaroid cameras, eventually to to encourage kids to go out into the world So this was the world, their world that I was sort of being introduced to them in some ways And this also around this time, you you began work in a town called Lando, and I had never seen this project before, and it’s in the book “In History” for those of you who know Susan’s work. But what we’re looking at here are some Polaroids of some children who you worked with And I find it so interesting how this project becomes a kind of template for ways in which you work in the future, but do you want to tell us a little bit about about this project and how it came about? Lando was not far from the the school I was teaching in the elementary school And I met the minister’s wife, Judy, and her husband, Charles, and they were interested. This is right around the time of the Bicentennial So it’s the summer before Seventy five. Seventy four Seventy five right on the cusp And we were

really it was a workshop with kids who were elementary into early middle school working with Polaroid, which was incredibly generous at this time, giving cameras and film to not just myself, to many, many people who are teaching with teaching photography in the early 70s And what we ended up doing was a combination of their photographing their families and the landscape of the town, which had been a mill town, and the mill had closed. So this was You know, I haven’t been back and this is one of those places that I want to go back to and I actually had thought about going back to pre covered recently through an invitation of someone, Judy, the minister—minister’s wife But what you’re seeing on the right are the people of the community listening to the stories of the kids gathered So here I am telling you about a kind of working process that I carry through my life, though I don’t I wouldn’t have known that that would have been true at this time. And what you see behind them are these this idea of a genealogy So the kids would either make photographs or collect photographs from their families, and they tried to trace the relationship of their families that had stayed in Lando because it was already a town with migrating populations leaving the town I find— Yeah, go ahead I find it really interesting to think about you and I have talked about the fact that, you know, there was no arts education And so you were thinking about building a curriculum and the idea of working with children creates this kind of social practice that just is organic in a way And that is a kind of practice that created this interest in a vernacular and in an oral history that really you can trace all the way through to Kurdistan, but you can trace through all of your projects really in the way that you think about even Carnival Strippers, this idea of, you know, the Polaroids that you gathered in that project So I think there’s something about that role of education and building a sort of community of partners that I find really fascinating And I see the roots of it in this project And it’s it’s wonderful to learn about Also some question about who are the pictures for—so this connection back for the person who it’s made of, is it a value to them? To what extent it serves for this community? I think this was an amazing project because people just sat for hours and hours listening to their neighbors and looking at the pictures of those who had come before them in this town Seems like something that would be useful today, actually. And that—it’s an interesting kind of comparison, I think, with Prince Street Girls, because in a way, you see you were sort of collaborating with children to create a project at Lando And that’s what you see on the left is these kids with these vernacular pictures And then, you know, you come back to to New York and you live in in Little Italy and all of a sudden you find kids on the street and you begin collaborating with them, but in a different way, and that you become interested in taking their pictures And I think you were also interested in the sort of relationship of the pose here So I wonder if you want to talk a little bit about what is the project, Prince Street Girls and was it even a project? How did it come to be? Or how do you define a project? I mean, these were—speaking about not knowing my neighbors in the one boarding house—this is the contrast. Of course, I don’t know my neighbors in Little Italy, but I start to meet these kids on the street and they were kids They were anywhere from eight to 10 or 11 at the time. I first met them hanging out after school I wasn’t I don’t think the word project with a capital P, it was really just, again, winding through photography, finding ourselves beginning to have a relationship They would come up to my loft on the same side within a block of where they lived and and see the pictures that I was printing And I would I would crisscross the path of Mott Street and Prince Street, meeting them, doing any number of things, pre-school, after school, on weekends Kids that you don’t see today in my neighborhood, but who were very present in that period of the 70s It’s a totally different time And it for me was so reminiscent of the work in some ways of Helen Levitt, whose picture you see on the left, in part because she was a woman who photographed children on the streets of New York And you were really not someone I think of as a street photographer, whereas I would say that Helen is more of a street photographer She did walk the streets to take pictures and she even used a right angle viewfinder in order to be sort of separate and unknown so that

so that they wouldn’t know that she was taking their picture. But I sort of get the sense that she was well-known enough around the neighborhoods that she could be ignored regardless. But there is this sense of play she captures that I think I see in your pictures as well I know she doesn’t follow the same group of girls. It’s more the idea of play in youth in general But I really love these pictures of yours on the on the right, where you see the kids really sort of lost in their own world And I wonder if you want to talk about what it was like to to capture these budding relationships Well, again, they’re just they’re just being who they are. I mean, it’s interesting your point about the right angle lens Obviously, they know I’m making photographs and sometimes I think they’re making—photographed—they’re making—you know, they feel my presence, they see me, but whether or not they understand really and it’s such a different time when you think about today, the innocence then compared to everyone taking selfies with their phones today, these kids included now that they’re in their 50s But, you know What was a photograph then? What did they understand? It took years and years before these photographs ever had a public life It was really, you know, I shared them with them at the time and they were buried for quite a long time, actually I mean, so you took pictures of them throughout the years And we interviewed Lisa, who’s in this picture on the left and JoJo. And so if you at home take a virtual tour with us, you’ll be able to hear from them because they’ve known Susan now for 50 years And, of course, they’ve they were there when Little Italy was a very different kind of neighborhood. But the picture on the right is also one I think of in a way, like I think of the pictures we talked about from the 70s of almost a picture that captures the feeling of a generation, but also the feeling of youth, the feeling of freedom, a feeling of being yourself with your friends You know, you have to also imagine these the girls, they were limited to Little Italy So this was a big adventure to go to the beach together And I think Lisa speaks in our interview with her. Lisa—the picture on the left is Lisa on the right and her dear friend who died a number of years ago And she speaks of the loss of Dee, that they’ve known each other—that this group of girls have known each other all their lives, was really important for her to tell us And who would know that making this photograph at that time? I’m fascinated, kind of like the way a photograph registers a moment in time and then, of course, you don’t know in this series, I’m really staying as close to them as I can for a number of years that I’m based in in Little Italy And you’re also someone, I think, who’s interested in capturing sort of that that moment of preparation of who someone might become and I think of adolescences, that kind of stage. So in a way, this entire series of pictures is is capturing a group of girls on the cusp of becoming, which is very central, I think, to the kinds of things that motivate you Yeah, and you have to imagine that I’m also doing this parallel to the Strippers, which is what I’m photographing in the summers There you go. So the very different—those women are becoming in a very different sense, a transition also in their lives And of course, on the left, we see Lena, who is one of the sort of central figures in Carnival Strippers And here we talk to, I think, about this role of immersion and and what it means to get to know the people and to get invited in sort of behind the scenes and also to really start to understand the girl show, which was women performing striptease at county county fairs around New England, in particular, at a time when the women’s movement really looked down on this kind of work And I think the thing that fascinates me so much about this project is that you were interested in hearing their perspectives and making sure that other people heard them as well and thought about why some would see this as an opportunity But I also have to say that this is a black and white series And we combed through some of the some of the outtakes in your archive for the virtual tour And I was so thrilled to see this picture on the right of the Ferris wheel in the background But I didn’t realize you’ve been taking pictures in color during Carnival Strippers as well So there’s a lot to talk about here But I wonder if you could start by talking a little bit about the pose and about what captured you about this moment really in both of the photographs Well, it’s funny because I keep thinking about

the color and I want people to remember why it was so difficult to work in color because it was ASA 25 for those of you who are analog photographers It’s unimaginable to anybody with an iPhone that you wouldn’t be able to make a photograph in color at the time I’m outside. So in the inside, it was even more impossible—one light bulb was all we had. I didn’t use flash Everything is a hand-held moment I’m not—you know, I’m in the same relationship in both of these photographs, in the sense that I’m in the public fairgrounds, along with everyone else, looking at women and looking at men, looking at women and looking at men controlling the women who are performing themselves. And progressively they move from the public fairgrounds to the interior space, the dressing room, which I then enter the next summer and then the back stage. So I see it as this—They’re there to lure men in and as they say, “no ladies and no babies.” And what you refer to about the sound was very important right from the beginning I needed to capture all of those perspectives, the managers, the boyfriends, the girls, the girls to the men, these various interactions between them So I was recording sound constantly as much as I was making photographs And I’m glad the exhibition actually has that sound. I mean, in the physical exhibition, if anyone gets to the MAM when it’s open, at some point you will hear the collage of sound, the original sound, but it’s also in part of the virtual And this is one of those moments that are kind of amazing because I happen to capture Lena, who’s on the left, on her very first day coming to the fair And she comes looking to dance and says she can dance, she knows how to do it, and she’s got a garbage bag full of clothes, she’s running away from her husband And two summers later, she is harder cause she kind of knows how she wants to look or how she wants to be seen Which is why I love these two portraits together on the wall She’s so transformed by the work within such a short time, she really starts to inhabit the pose in a way where she seems to understand more what it means And then we also have your contact sheets so that people can see, first of all, what a contact sheet might look like. And then, you know, thinking about you bringing these back so that the girls could see their pictures because really you’re taking these pictures for them Yeah. Yeah. So their initials are on which pictures they like more than others And you can just see them trying to figure out how to present, you know, and I’m not directing them. So it’s kind of like be who you want to be. Just I’m just there is your mirror in a kind of way But this is also two and a quarter, which is interesting to think about the four or five and the two and a quarter, neither of which I’m really as as—it’s not really my my favorite I really love the Leica and the lightness of and the quietness of the Leica in this period But it’s the appropriate medium And I just pulled this in because I really talking about the pose that sort of way in which Lena looks like she is trying to strike a pose that she has seen in a magazine And I think so much about other women who have captured women and the fact that that girls are sort of taught that they should look this way and that sometimes when they pose this way, they they don’t even look like they’re comfortable doing it. But they’ve been taught that it’s the way to pose. And so, you know, with Rineke Dijkstra, who works in a very different manner than you, with a large format camera that she takes to the beach and makes very large scale color pictures But you can see on the ground how the girl has sort of posed many different ways for her, just all her footprints in the sand And so thinking about that encounter, that relationship, Rineke not actually knowing this girl the way you might have known Lena, and yet both of them striking that pose because they know it’s the way to look Yeah, well, the other thing to think about is that, I mean, this is the first day I meet Lena, though I know her for a number of years after that. And what I love about Rineke’s work is some of her work has also done that kind of catching in and following someone over time She has some wonderful series where she does that. This the beach series is not as true for that series But I think the there are a lot of bodies of her work where she goes back and finds people over time Like Almerisa, the refugee So I think what’s so interesting and important

about this series Carnival Strippers too, is that you’re not just looking at the presentation on stage, but you’re backstage and you’re really interested in the working life of these girls and not just the working life, but the performance they have to enact, the magic they need to create in the energy it takes to do so And so I love this picture of Shortie on the left. I think it’s probably my my favorite picture in the entire body of work, but I love hearing you talk about making this photograph And I wonder if you want to talk a little bit about since since both of these pictures are of Shortie. What—what drew you to these moments? Hmm Well, I think it’s—what can I say, there’s something about the waiting for the night to run out, you know, she’s running out onto the stage, performing for three minutes to a forty five record The it’s interesting, I don’t know if anyone else could tell and know that this was Shortie, I mean, she’s wearing a wig and on the right and wanted me to see the night behind the stage. So they’re are opening the curtain for me to see the men and see the work that they’re doing But she’s waiting for that night to be over She’s waiting for whatever the girl that’s on stage to be finished So, I mean, you’ve also photographed the girl on stage from such a low angle that it’s very much like the Lena picture of the bally box where she becomes so statuesque and so larger than life because you’re looking up at her and she’s also blurred And so she has this kind of sense of of magic, of creating something that that doesn’t exist And I, of course, couldn’t help but think of Manet’s “Olympia” from 1863 and think about the difference between a woman photographing, women working and a man making a painting for consumption, really of a woman’s body and the differences between what you get when you have that perspective and also even thinking in photography of Cartier-Bresson, who made this picture in Spain in the 1930s and took portraits of prostitutes very often, but clearly with a different goal in a different perspective, sort of enjoying their seduction, but also their play Whereas I think on the left you really see Lena’s exhaustion And you are you were spending a lot of time with her So you are seeing sort of being more empathetic of her experience than perhaps what Cartier-Bresson’s experience was Well, there’s definitely not a—yeah, I’m I’m I’m doing laundry. I’m living in the hotels I’m going out. I’m there all day and all night, moving town to town with them—bringing, going back to Boston, making processing the film, bringing the contacts back there, seeing the contacts. So they’re seeing themselves being seen by me, which is a very important—interesting because of course, today and with digital, that doesn’t seem like much of anything But at the time, it really it was important kind of intentionality to share the process as best I could And I think one of the things that I find also compelling sort of in this series and throughout is, again, this this sort of liminal sense of you concentrating on that moment of transition And you speak about the curtain as a metaphor within the text of the book, but also just looking at that picture on the top left of, you know, she’s pulling the curtain back and the girl who’s in I think it’s Debbie who’s in in sort of the waiting room is just kind of smoking But you can see the man through the curtain and that sense of like, OK, now I must prepare to to perform And what happens in that space between the sort of dressing room and the stage and and what kind of safety that offers But do you want to talk a little bit about what drew you to that and what else you see there? Well, I love that you brought these four pictures together on the wall because the, you know, the curtain is is definitely I mean, you see Shortie in the bottom left, it’s Shortie looking through watching another girl dance And as you see on the upper, we have the voice of Debbie talking about what she needs to do to look beautiful, to pretend she’s beautiful, but not to not to connect with anyone Lena’s running on the stage from the upper right, which gives you a sense of how much pressure they were under to constantly perform. These were, you know, maybe shows

that lasted anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes And then they would build a new audience and they would go from five o’clock in the afternoon to 1:00 in the evening So long, long days I’ve always loved the bottom right picture as a symbol of of the self determination, that kind of resistance and incredible confidence at the same time that they had to do what they were doing and they had some sense they would survive it I’m not sure I would have at the time And we also talk about the fact that women’s bodies have shifted since this time, that these are the sort of much more real with scars and you know— Bruises Yeah, and I think I think there’s something that’s shifted in our culture, especially in the way we expect women to not just perform, but to appear Yeah And so that brings us to a series of pictures that I had never seen before, “Women in the US Army,” which were taken in nineteen seventy five in nineteen seventy seven when you were photographing at Fort Jackson in South Carolina Yeah At the basic training for women in the Army. And, you know, I’m so struck we keep talking about the idea of a bridge, but that this series for me is a real bridge between Carnival Strippers and between what you will later do in Nicaragua This sense of what are the opportunities that are available to women in the United States and why might someone join the army? But also, when you’re making these pictures, you’re not just photographing the moments of impact, but really inside and outside of training to really understand the lives of the women. But everything from preparing with their gas masks to preparing with their mascara, which, of course, is something that I wouldn’t imagine men were trained in. But for me, this was a this was a real revelation to find these pictures Well, you know, the other thing to think about with the women in the Army is that There’s a line that Lena says that you hear in the sound, she says something about being a stripper is close to being in the men’s world is one can be She loves the idea that they’re groveling at her feet And this is kind of a reverse women, you know, wanting to be part of a male corps And at this time, there were huge debates about whether or not women were ready and could be made ready to be on the front lines So what being on the front lines meant—they could do the cooking and they could do the nursing. But could they really fight? That’s what’s really interesting about what I didn’t know when I was photographing the basic training in 76 is that two years later I’d be in Nicaragua where women are fighting, no training just right in the middle of an insurrection And it’s interesting to think about, you know, we’ve talked so much about you building a relationship with your subject, but there’s also the subject of building a relationship with the collective or women, building relationships with men And so we start to see that also playing out. And I think for me, this this seeing “Women in the US Army” was a really—Gave me a new perspective on Nicaragua, because I think I for so long have known all the pictures, like the picture on the left, really iconic picture of the Molotov Man, which, of course, is fascinating And there’s so much to talk about with the Nicaragua series But I think in this exhibition, what’s interesting for me is that we start to see how you also were really looking at the roles of women and that becomes apparent in the pictures. So the picture on the right of a woman who is sort of thrust into combat, does she get trained the same way the women were getting trained in the US Army? And, you know, women in the US Army weren’t really ending up in combat in this way So it’s an interesting bridge again Yeah, and of course, I’m seeing these and then thinking about 10 years later, when I go back to make “Pictures from a Revolution,” I find Marta, who’s the woman in the center of the picture, and I also find the young boy who then has been sent off to Cuba to be trained. And the man behind her is somebody who’s now already left Nicaragua and is in Canada So I’m I’m looking at a moment in time And that’s also what’s important about the iconic image of the Molotov Man, because Somoza leaves the evening after that picture was made So for the Nicaraguans, this this image becomes symbolic of the the ultimate moment of the popular insurrection that overthrew Somoza And so, you know, then that picture has its own kind of life

independent of the life of the man that’s in the picture. So I think one of the things that happens for me in Nicaragua is I’m not I’m also starting to interrogate the ways in which photographs live in the lives of my subjects. Again, it’s kind of back to some of the themes we’ve already touched on. But you you don’t always have long term relationships with the people, but then you do have these complex relationships to the images that you make that have lives of their own, as I said, and the Molotov Man continues to unfold a life independently of me And then there again, you know, you you go to Nicaragua in 1978 because you see something in the newspaper that draws your attention to this uprising, this insurrection And it’s really something that’s a divergent path from what you’ve been looking at before, which had been more sort of domestic stories And I think you say something in the in the virtual tour about no one no one saw my pictures from Carnival Strippers and thought, you know, she should go to Nicaragua But I think that idea of immersion, even if you’re not getting to know the people, you’re getting to know the culture, you’re getting to know the place And because you bought your own ticket, you’re there for much longer And so you start to see things, I think that maybe, perhaps others wouldn’t have, such as the picture on the right of the women who are waiting outside of jail to find out if their family members, their husbands, their sons have been imprisoned or on the left, the picture of of this protest that you discover Do you want to talk a little bit about? Yeah, I think the the I didn’t know this was Arlen Sui at the time I made the photograph, but I find out later that she was a martyr She had died in the mountains And this—this is a it’s not actually a protest, it’s a funeral carrying four coffins to a town of Jinotepe And when they pass Arlen’s family’s home, they bring out the photograph from their living room. So talking about photographs and how do they live in memory of someone on the wall, the family brings it forth and it’s carried around the town Do you think the funeral in some way, acted as protests, though, or was it I mean, this idea of coming together or was it simply just a memorial? No, it begins as a memorial And and, of course, these are all university students, many of them that had been killed. So there’s a fury in the town So it’s it has an insurrection will feel, but it’s not that different than what we were feeling on the streets of the Black Lives Matter. It’s kind of like enough, enough, that kind of feeling And so it was under the organization of FSLN, which is the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, and that was definitely the organizing group These all these the people in the streets are not necessarily formally organized, but they’re responding to a sense of the urgency of what what’s happening around them So the other thing that I was truly excited about, especially in putting together this virtual tour over the course of the past six months, is we found this interview that you did with feminist writer and author, writer and curator Lucy Lippard in 1992, where you talked about these postcards that you had brought postcard paper down to Nicaragua And, you know, I was thinking about the fact that no matter where you go, you sort of create a collective in a way or you try to think about ways in which you can Help other people or bring them together around photography, and so I was thrilled to learn about this And do you want to talk a little bit about what these posts are? I think the question was really, what can you contribute, especially as a foreigner, especially with the privilege of a passport coming and going? This is through the Contra War Some of some of the people, I hope on this call would remember the covert war that was launched under Reagan and was very aggressive against Nicaragua at the time So all the Kodak stores closed So the photography community I had known I had worked with and had no materials and and their economy Lots of photographers are thinking now in terms of COVID in this way, but they had nothing to work with So bringing a box and they used to come in like five hundred sheet boxes of this fantastic postcard paper That was all As you can see on the back, it was predetermined, all you had to do is add the address And they printed their photographs and would sell them in the hotels and sell them to tourists who were still coming down to Nicaragua. So it was a wonderful exchange

and a kind of collective project at the time Really interesting to to think about the kinds of pictures that we we did not see from from that period because there was no paper available to the people who live there So these are Nicaraguan photographers making postcards of their favorite pictures of moments in Nicaraguan life that we were most likely not seeing, you know, the literacy campaign, which is on the left, et cetera Yeah And then, you know, I think we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the fact that, you know, we like you keep saying things like, well, now with digital photography But, you know, of course, you were photographing with film and sending it back to New York And so you weren’t seeing any of the pictures you were making until they were published and sometimes published on the cover of the New York Times Magazine Do you want to talk about I mean, so here we’re looking at the same photograph, but different kind of mediation’s of it And that’s something I think that’s also central. And we could spend hours talking about that But but I wonder if you want to talk a little bit about the relationship and the sort of life an image has in different contexts Yeah, well, I love that In the exhibit we have the mural that was actually in the street of Monimbo where the photograph was originally made So the mural on the right is at the 25th anniversary of the overthrow of Somoza, whereas the picture on the left is my first cover. First time I’m working with the media and I say with rather than for, because it really wasn’t on assignment I was really there I came back. In fact, in this case, I’d been in Nicaragua for six weeks and came back to see my film because again, Kodachrome, you had to process it took two or three days, etc So I came back, saw my film, and then went back down again And The Times had sent a writer down independently And so that’s how this magically came to be, and it’s it’s a very transformative thing, you know, Carnival Strippers lived under my bed for years and until it was made into a book And an exhibition, it didn’t have a public life the way this photograph did, so, of course, when I went back for, you know, the pictures, “Pictures from a Revolution,” the central figure here is someone named Guusto, who’s a shoemaker in Monimbo and was the person that would invited me into this setting, which was an underground cell They were practicing making contact bombs And I’ve always been struck by why he trusted me And also this is a kind of portrait I would normally not be comfortable making Its again, goes back to performance in a way. It’s it’s not a pose—They are literally letting me know that they know how to make contact bombs and they know how to make them and throw them And therefore it’s a kind of it’s an act of defiance that they want captured So in a way, I felt like I was just there to capture what they wanted to portray of themselves Yeah, look, even though they’re wearing a mask, this is not a mask This is them without the mask The mask protects their identity for a minute, but also knowing who they are I know it’s Gusto, I know where Gusto lives And in the film, I go back 10 years later to talk to him about this moment, which we also have in the gallery And I’m very happy people will hear him in his own words, talk about his life And, you know, you have worked in public in in various ways and we talk about conflict in Nicaragua, but but there is conflict in domestic violence that is invisible, insidious We don’t talk about it socially very often And so in nineteen ninety one, you were invited by the Liz Claiborne Foundation to make work for a public the first public awareness campaign for domestic violence in San Francisco. And so on the right, you see your final bus shelter And on the left is a picture that I mean, aside from the bruise, might be an advertisement But, you know, I, I find it so interesting to think about ways in which you were thinking about visualizing domestic violence and what would really make an impact Do you want to talk about the picture on the left and how you ended up with the picture on the right? Now, the commission was to to be part of this public awareness campaign, but there was no direction as to what we would do. We could find our own path And I, of course, started thinking about the police, the hospitals Sites where there was evidence, you could say, of domestic violence and then in my passing, I met Susan Breall, who’s the district attorney, who was unbelievably welcoming and sharing of information

that was in the public domain And I began to read the testimonies of the detectives, of the neighbors, people reporting on these various incidents and seeing at the same time some of the work that the detectives themselves had made So it became less about making the photographs and more about making the making the issue more visible in a way that was also protective of identities in a different way than we’re talking about masks in Nicaragua But the woman on the right is a woman named Irma, whose husband had slashed her wrists and arms and nearly stabbed her mother to death in in the local in the in the family restaurant and We you know, in the exhibition, it’s really important to me that people will hear Irma’s voice. So she’s a survivor and she goes on, I think her restaurant’s been closed in COVID times, but she’s she’s determined to, you know, to succeed and move on So I think these are you know, the photographs are only part of the story And that’s definitely I think even in the virtual tour, the being able to hear directly from Irma and being able to hear you speak with Susan Breall, who is now a judge, but who was then in the district attorney’s office and what that how that became a collaboration And I think that’s such an insight into not only how you work, but how how you think And so I hope people will spend some time with that You know, it’s also not being fixed in what you’re doing, but responsive in some way, you know, I mean, I wasn’t invested in my photographs. I was really interested in the idea. How do you get this idea? How do you make this idea visible in a way that the public can can process? And this is a project that happens in quite some time later, almost twenty five years later, in which the issue of domestic violence certainly hasn’t gone away This is part of a project called “A Room of Their Own.” It’s sort of suiting to end with this because I feel the presence of these women. I’m protecting their identities They’re not present in the rooms, but the rooms are like mirrors of their identities, their psychology, their struggle to survive Again, this is a project called “A Room of Their Own” in a shelter in the north northern U.K in the coal country, which has been devastated by domestic violence Well, and in fact, Milwaukee has a high rate of domestic violence, and so one of the things we seek to do is to offer a platform for our community voices And so we will be hosting a program We have two community partners, Sojourner Family Peace Center here in Milwaukee and Lotus Legal, who provide legal services to women who have been trafficked or experienced domestic violence And so with that, I just want to mention our upcoming programs in association with the exhibition, the first of which is collaboration of potential history of photography, which really speaks to a lot of the things we discussed tonight But we will invite you with Wendy Ewald, Ariella Azoulay, Leigh Raiford, Laura Wexler, to discuss a project you’ve been working on now for some years, so I’m very much looking forward to that. And then the panel I mentioned in which we will discuss the role of photography and personal narrative in domestic violence campaigns, but where we will hear directly from survivors So before I open it up to questions, I just want to take everyone into the virtual tour so that we can show you sort of how to how to use it, but also maybe show you one of the videos So I’m just going to Yeah, everyone has to know that this is how we survived COVID, by obsessing on trying to figure out how we could transform space into an experience We certainly did Susan and I recorded many hours of audio, but also just talked so much about the pictures And to me, that was the most valuable experience and it really gave me something to get excited about So here’s the museum’s exhibition page And what you’ll do is when this goes live tomorrow, you will click on the virtual exhibition and it takes you in You can see the little dollhouse from above There’s also a banner on the bottom of the page that you can Open up, that will take you in order through

the various sections of the exhibition, but if you come down to the title wall, there’s my audio introduction There is a kind of navigation field that tells you not just how to move around, but also gives you the color coding. So what we did in this virtual exhibition was really try and present as many different perspectives and voices as possible So you’ll have my voice, of course, and you’ll have Susan’s voice, but you’ll also have various participants and collaborators and you’ll also have Susan from historical footage. So there’s various ways in which you can experience And then if you click here, it will bring you right to the first wall And I just want to show you This video just Nope, sorry I remember feeling I was boxed in as a woman photographer, photographing women, am I doing it because I’m a woman or is it because I’m a woman I’m able to place myself differently I’m consciously interested in what’s happening with women, but I’m just the generation after those who fought the hardest politically, the Yarra movement just before me If you’re looking at the 50s and then what’s happened in the 60s and then what women in the beginning of the 70s are feeling right there on the streets, they’re burning their bras There’s a progressive collective movement building And I don’t have to be on the streets I can actually just feel it that I’m empowered in that sense to look, to be, to endeavor, to explore, to express I’m just beginning to earn what others have fought harder for I’m assuming I have the right to be there and I have a sense of my own value and what I can contribute by being there I was just a woman in the 70s who felt I could be Who I imagined myself to become and explore again as broadly as I could and challenge myself in a range of ways by those encounters which shaped my life, that shaped my thinking And they continue to an ongoing way So I do hope you’ll spend some time investigating the virtual tour. I can’t thank our team enough Ted Cruz, rap artist Dustin Dupri, John Chiaro and Jessica Ball, who did so much work putting that together And now I want to open it up to questions So I’m just going to take a look here and see I have a question How has the digital camera affected your photography, has it given you abilities you didn’t have before or even Susan? Do you use a digital camera? I was reluctant to go digital because of the quality of the digital in their early period of 90s, but, you know, it’s very important those murals which returned to Nicaragua are only possible because of digital photography You know, when you think about what we can do with printing on mesh mesh that can survive the rain in the sun, whatever So in one way, the digital technology, that was the first I was comfortable And then, of course, I now work with digital It’s so hard to find anyone who even processes film And I do love that you can share an image very intuitively in the way that Polaroid was a very special technology I mean, I miss Polaroid I still love Polaroid, the physicality of a Polaroid, which is a gift that you give away and you don’t ever have again, and the digital file you can reproduce endlessly So there are tremendous advantages And there’s something also we’ve lost in the transition That I still treasure And now here’s another question that I find fascinating, actually, because I think It’s interesting to think about not just your role as a photographer, but as a leader in the field, and so someone asks seeing all of these community focused photos together. I’m curious how your history with

these photos influences how you’ve led the Magnum Foundation Well, I am interested in certain themes that, first of all, I mean, we don’t talk we haven’t talked much about it, but I was very involved through the period in Latin America with making other possibilities and opportunities for people from from Latin America So I was involved in training I was interested in publishing work that had wasn’t my work, but work that they had done in El Salvador and Chile elsewhere. So I feel as if I think of myself as being trying to bring eyes forward and bring diverse voices forward So the Magnum Foundation is definitely continued to diversify the field, very focused on the global south and making creating opportunities for greater visibility and partnerships and innovation And so innovation includes working in public space, doing work in performance, working in Asia, which is really augmented reality, which is what we just did with this tour, exploring ways that narrative’s can continue to Capture the imagination and share some intimacy And I think the foundation continues to grow and incorporate new ideas, I’m now the president of the foundation But Kristin Lubben, who is a former curator who I worked with So actually, 20 to do the ICP, which was the first retrospective I did the catalog in history, so we’ve known each other a long time and I think of the whole team at the Vanguard Foundation as a kind of collaborative orientation to what can we do? How do we expand the circle of inclusion? And representation Yeah, and I think I think it’s sort of inextricably linked There’s no way to think of you as just a sort of photographer, but you were also someone who is invested in the field and is connected to many parts of of the ways in which the field functions I have two questions that are related, one of which asks specifically that the change to how cameras are now embedded in our phones has made people so much more aware of photography and how it might shape the landscape. But then this one is even more specific in that it asks This person was struck by the side by side of llena and as well with the comparison of Wynarka Dykstra’s image and the very different moment we’re in today, young people are so much more aware of how they present and market themselves Does that self-awareness and perform activity that seem so much more a part of how people engage with each other today impact how you are able to photograph so that sense of spontaneous and awkward moments more difficult to capture So the question of how how is it change for you, but also maybe how how is it change for the field? Well, that’s a great question I think the simple I’m not asking myself the question of how is my photography changing in relationship to that phenomenon. I think, you know, people photographing themselves, people recreating moments, reconstructing moments, presenting themselves in very different ways, both as photographers capturing and with that kind of visual language or or the identities themselves wanting to control their representation I’m comfortable with all of that, you know I mean, I went to the fiftieth surprise birthday party for Lisa, and I immediately felt like I was not needed to be the the community photographer of that group of girls. They were all making pictures and sharing pictures and they’re more on Facebook and Instagram than I am So I was I stepped back in the last project during COVID alongside this one was collecting early photographs from my neighborhood in Little Italy that are from the rooftops that I discovered that people had been making, you know, and they’re there They are there sunbathing and they’re celebrating weddings and communion’s And I love discovering with my neighbors these this from their albums, photographs that had been isolated in various families, various families, but who coming together really speak of a certain time that’s certainly long gone in Little Italy So that’s a contribution I can make And maybe it’s not making new photographs, or maybe it will be In a way that I don’t know now, and I think I can live with not knowing So I have two questions here that are again related One person asks how you got your start in photography and whether you were inspired by other photographers And then another person asked where your profound drive comes from

And I think that those are also linked I think maybe that is inherent But you can answer I don’t know how you drive to be curious I mean, how can one not be curious in this world? It’s such a privilege to be able to to wander, to connect, to reflect I mean, I I remember actually after it’s a funny thing to say now, maybe you all but when I finished Carnival Strippers, which was, you know, a three plus year project and at the heart of everything, I was terribly connected and very it was hard to make a book and let it go. It was kind of I never thought I could care about anything quite as much. And then, of course, within two years, I was in the middle of Nicaragua and that same question came up soon after So I think you you have to do something about staying open and not knowing where it’s going to lead you and trusting that intuition I don’t know if that’s drive, but that’s That’s kind of what I carry with me in photography What about photography? Well Which aspect of photography finding, you know, there’s you know, as Lisa knows, that sort of a provocative question because in doing this virtual tour I you know, I had crazy ideas when we put the body, we found the series on the bodybuilders from one day I immediately went to Google and started looking for those women and found out that a number of them are still doing body building in Europe And I want to find them and I haven’t found them yet So photograph’s to me of these moments of intersection, of possibilities of time. I mean, there is time in the photograph this time around, how the photograph lives in time, how people in the time of the photograph change this so much dimensionality to explore I don’t think it’s only making a new frame It’s maybe re experiencing frames that you’ve made and bringing them into new context, as we’ve just done here And that leads us actually to the next question, which I think is, you know, and it’s interesting for me, too, because in putting together this exhibition, there was so much where I thought, well, people just aren’t going to get the full sense because putting pictures on a wall isn’t really getting to know what Susan does or her work And so this person has asked whether presenting this exhibition in the virtual realm seemed closer to what you might originally hope with your earlier work bringing together text, image and sound Yeah, I think that’s exactly And I think if anything, I want to explore it further and make it even more immersive and experiential It’s still an awkward software It’s still a very, you know, innovative approach. I don’t I really love the multiple perspectives that we’ve been able to bring I mean, I’ve always thought about the triangulation of the photographer, the photograph person as a subject Obviously, we think about viewers, but hearing voices has always been part of my practice. So Carnivàle strippers, when it was first shown in nineteen seventy five, you heard all the voices I was referring to in the open space of the gallery And you will again if and when Mayim opens and pictures from Revolution was made with my partners for Gezari and Dick Rogers And when we went back 10 years, of course I didn’t know that I would install them Now in the man next to the still photographs that I had made, we were making a movie and the is 90 minutes And so it took a while to think, why not make clips of each of these people and then think about the still photograph in relation to their life going on So that’s what you’ll experience both in the gallery and in the virtual tour You’ll hear their sense of how their lives have changed over ten years So I’ve been exploring this in lots of ways, which was why it was possible to do this in such a, you know, in the last few months, bringing back finding early interviews that I hadn’t looked at for decades and decades. I mean, I forgot I was with Charles Kuralt on the road when I came back from Nicaragua You know, I was the young girl from the revolution, as it were So I’m sort of rediscovering things of how I was being seen in my own lifetime that I’d kind of forgotten about And I’m fascinated to watch that footage and see how You still speak in exactly the same way you use the same language, you had the same sort of determination and rigor in as a very young person So I find that kind of fascinating to see you, having met you later in your life There’s an interesting question here How have the current discussions about the

increased reluctance of the public to trust journalistic sources altered the ways you think about the role of photographs as documents? Yeah, well, as you can see, I’m not totally comfortable with photographs, just living on walls framed in separate from us So I’m always trying to again that weird bridge, bridge them bridge, find new ways of bridging to and there are opportunities to connect us, but they don’t always do that So maybe that’s in a way part of why this approach has been appropriate for me I don’t think it is for everyone In every photograph I make, I don’t go back to and return is something I value a lot, but I can’t always go back and go back and go back So the tension between going back and reflecting and going forward So photography changes, I think the ethical context remains an important one to continuously consider So what do these photographs do for the people who are in them? For the communities around them, for us? Do we really what can we really know through the photographic experience ourselves? What can we really share? And what what changes as a result of all that so-called awareness, you know, I think that obviously plagues me when I go back to the domestic violence work, which we were so convinced that if people knew about it, that would be enough And that crisis line was, of course, crucial at the time But here we are decades later So I think this idea of return and rediscovery is really central to just Even the idea of I mean, I don’t think of you as someone who finishes a photograph and then it sits on a wall, I mean, you’ve built a relationship, whether it’s with the place or with the person And there’s someone here who asks if you could go back in time Is there anything you’d change about carnival strippers? I think Carnival strippers in particular is hard to return to because many of the people who you knew so well as part of that project are no longer living But that’s something you’ve thought about or have you returned to that perhaps through series like Pandora’s Box? Well, that’s really interesting, which we’re not showing, but I did go back to find the women in Carnival Strippers when the book was reprinted by Aperture So that was about 30 years later And Debbie was the only one who is still living Shortie died a few years ago, but I did find Shortie and amazingly short lived about a mile from the place she ran away from at age 16 Lena had died and her mother had written me about that. I knew about her She died in the 70s, I think You know, when the carnival strippers themselves, the girl shows, were kind of closed up by the end of the 70s, so there was no girl show to go back to the parallel your drawing, which is interesting because I get to Pandora’s Box, which is an S and M club in New York in the mid 90s, because Nick Broomfield, who’s a British filmmaker, had wanted to do a film about Carnival strippers And I said, well, they’re out there, you you should go. And by the time he went, he discovered that, of course, the culture, the ecosystem of girl shows was no longer throughout New England So that’s what he gave me a call and said, you should come check out Pandora’s Box. It’s the 90s, it’s carnival strippers in the 90s So that’s what led me there And the minute I, I got off the elevator and I was in this 10000 square foot loft of little rooms fantasy play, it was kind of called the Disneyland of Domination I had to stay So I think, you know, what draws you isn’t always it’s not just what draws you, it’s what holds you, it what brings you back I think he just kind of know So I think I’m going to ask you one more question, and I think it’s it’s a provocative one because, you know, I joked earlier that we sort of were dubious about the title through a woman’s lens, because I think neither of us would agree that that Europe that these are just photographs taken by a woman. I mean, clearly, that’s not the most interesting question But the idea of sort of examining what it was to be becoming during the women’s movement is one that I’m interested in And I sort of see you as a feminist, but I’m not sure that you would see yourself that way necessarily So there’s a question here

that this is not just work made through a woman’s lens, but through a feminist lens. Your insistence on collaboration, contribution and counter inclusion What was your involvement in the feminist movement in that early period and how did it shape your distinctly feminist practice? Yeah, well, I think it’s Just such a question, I mean, I wasn’t wearing a t shirt necessarily, but I fully identified and so is a difference of being the activist Did I burn my bra? You know, I just wasn’t wearing one, so I didn’t have to burn it But I think that that I couldn’t not be involved with the issues of that time and the desires of that time for women. And I also felt You know, I felt empowered to be who I could be, and I say that in the in one of those interviews, because that in itself was was enough And just to to do the work, you know, to do the work, and I think that Not always be celebrated for the work, though it might seem that way to some of you It was it’s also a lonely path, just doing the work Believing that it can matter to the people who you’re with and the people who might see the work So the question of being a feminist is such a kind of narrow capital f feminist, active Embodied spirit of feminism, yes, for sure Well, Susan, I think for me, what you have built for the rest of us is something that I can’t thank you enough for, and I think that that drive to create community and to build a photographic world in which we are more visually literate is something that that you’ve really been invested in throughout your career. And we are all the better for it So I want to thank you for this evening’s conversation and for the past six months of intense conversation that all of you can enjoy through the virtual exhibition, which will either be in your email or you can find it online tomorrow on the website But please do join us for the upcoming programs and take a look at the exhibition Susan Meiselas: Through a Woman’s Lens on mam.org And can we say also that it’s still an experiment and it might change and it might even grow And so tell us what you think It’s yes, we’d love to hear from you and we will continue to add to it So we will keep you posted as we add new content Thank you, Lisa Thank you, everyone, for attending tonight, and I look forward to seeing you all either online or at the museum again soon Thank you, Susan Thanks, Lisa. Wonderful to be here with you You, too