From 1972 to 1975 she spent her summers photographing and interviewing women who performed striptease for small town carnivals in New England, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. As she followed the shows from town to town, she portrayed the dancers on stage and off, photographing their public performances as well as their private lives. She taped interviews with the dancers, their boyfriends, the show managers, and paying customers. Meiselas’ frank reveal of the lives of these women brought a hidden world to public attention. Produced at the height of the women’s movement in the ‘70s, the series Carnival Strippers reflects the struggle for identity and self-esteem that characterises a complex era of change.
Meiselas has been the President of the Magnum Foundation since 2007, with a mission to expand diversity and creativity in documentary photography.
Her works have been presented in exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Kunsthaus Wien in Vienna. Meiselas was awarded the Hasselblad Award, a MacArthur Genius Grant, the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize and the first Women in Motion Award for her work.
Mediations, a survey exhibition of her work from the 1970s to the present was recently exhibited at the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Jeu de Paume, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Instituto Moreira Salles in São Paulo, Kunst Haus Wien, C/O Berlin, Kunstmuseum Magdeburg, and FOMU in Antwerp.