Witnessing the Female Gaze in Susan Meiselas’s 1970s Street Photos

Hyperallergic - Art Review - May 25, 2017

Before Susan Meiselas, as a freshly minted member of Magnum Photos, traveled to Nicaragua at the end of the 1970s to document the Sandinista revolution, she established her unflinching eye with Carnival Strippers. This series of photographs, made from 1972–1975, featured women who performed in the two-bit girlie shows at American small town carnivals and rural county fairs, as well as the audiences who frequented their performances. Meiselas captured a subculture of women for whom being ogled was intrinsic to their labor, and who forged relationships with each other built on the shared, understood premise of what it meant to be objectified for a living. But immediately following Carnival Strippers, Meiselas produced another, lesser-known series in her adopted home city of New York. The photographs that comprise Prince Street Girls (1976–1979), currently at Higher Pictures, are now being given their due.


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