25 November 2008

Berger on Meiselas

"When I recently watched Pictures from a Revolution, the film about her returning to Nicaragua ten years after she took the photographs, I kept asking myself who Meiselas, with all her reticence and discretion, reminded me of?

I couldn't find the answer, and anyway, like each one of us, she's unique. The next morning it came to me. She reminded me not of another person, but of a sculpture: the only existing sculpture by the Italian Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna. I looked again at the reproduction I have of it. Yes. It is not a question of a look-alike (although their physical stances are similar) but of that mysterious attitude which is a presence. A presence is a source of energy offered to others. Yes." ~ John Berger*

There is a danger, I think, in exalting photographers - any photographer. And Berger is quick to insist that Susan Meisleas is "not a saint." Instead he suggests nonetheless that, like Mantegna's St. Eufemia**, Meiselas's work in Nicaragua (and elsewhere) presents us with "an example given and a wager made."
* From "Susan Meisleas Nicaragua" Aperture (Winter 2008) page 24.
Statue of "St. Eufemia" (circa 1454) by Andrea Mantegna.

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