7:00 PM

Susan Meiselas - In the Shadow of History  

34 Tsakalof Str., Kolonaki 106 73

New York University in Athens invites you to a lecture by the distinguished photographer Susan Meiselas.

Renowned photographer Susan Meiselas will discuss her effort from 1991 to 1997 and beyond to create a visual history of the Kurds. She will talk about what it means to create an archive from diasporic materials, and indeed to try to create a history in the midst of efforts to deprive a people of this history.

Meiselas had entered northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to record the effects of Saddam Hussein’s campaigns against Iraq’s Kurdish population. She joined Human Rights Watch in documenting the destruction of Kurdish villages and the uncovering of mass graves. Moved by her experiences, she put together a book, Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History, first published in 1997, which sought to give form to the collective memory of the Kurds and to create a vital national archive from scattered fragments collected from around the globe.

She gathered together images and accounts by colonial administrators, anthropologists, missionaries, soldiers, journalists, and others who had traveled to Kurdistan over the last century, and by Kurds themselves. The project also included photographs, personal memoirs, government reports, letters, advertisements, and maps. Meiselas will describe the different ways in which she sought to present the complexity of this history by offering multiple layers of representation, juxtaposing different orders of historiographical evidence and memories, all in order to allow the reader to discover voices of the Kurds that contest Western notions of them. Although she will take her point of departure from this particular project, she will talk more generally about how images can be used as a medium for historical and cultural representation.

Susan Meiselas is a Magnum photographer and presently the President of the Magnum Foundation. She is best known for her project on carnival strippers, her coverage of the insurrection in Nicaragua and her documentation of human rights issues in Latin America, and her six-year project curating a hundred-year photographic history of Kurdistan. She has had solo exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and her work is included in collections around the world. She has received the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “outstanding courage and reporting” for her work in Nicaragua, the Leica Award for Excellence, the Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Hasselblad Foundation Photography Prize, the Cornell Capa Infinity Award, and the Harvard Arts Medal. In 1992, she was named a MacArthur Fellow. Her most recent exhibitions have included retrospectives of her work at the Tàpies Foundation in Barcelona, the Jeu de Paume in Paris, and the SFMOMA.

Open to the community

Susan Meiselas