2005 Infinity Award: Cornell Capa Award
New York-based photographer Susan Meiselas has always expressed her conscience, from her passionately engaged work in Central America to her project tracing the history and representations of the Dani people of the West Papuan highlands. After earning a master's degree in visual education from Harvard University, she started working as an assistant film editor on the Frederick Wiseman documentary, "Basic Training." She went on to taught photography workshops for teachers and children in New York's South Bronx.During those summers, she traveled throughout New England to photograph and interview women who earned their living in girl shows at state fairs. The photographs were published in her first book, Carnival Strippers, in 1976. That same year, Meiselas joined Magnum Photos.
Her coverage of hostilities in Central America during the 1970s and 80s was widely published throughout the world. She received the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “outstanding courage and reporting” from the Overseas Press Club in 1979 for her work in Nicaragua. She served as an editor and contributor to the books El Salvador: The Work of Thirty Photographers (1983) and Chile from Within (1991). Meiselas has also co-directed two films based on her involvement in Nicaragua, Living at Risk: The Story of a Nicaraguan Family (1985), and Pictures from a Revolution (1991). In 1997, she completed a six-year project on the 100-year photographic history entitled Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History—an exhibition, book, and website. Both projects examine the relationship between power and representation and register a shift in her working process from photographer to collector and curator.
Meiselas is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Leica Award for Excellence (1982), the Photojournalist of the Year Award from the ASMP (1982), and the Hasselblad Foundation Photography Prize (1994). She was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1992. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows at the International Center of Photography, Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among many others.