Susan Meiselas: ‘A Room of Their Own’ | Rizzoli Bookshop
A Room of Their Own, Susan Meiselas
A Room of Their Own is Meiselas’ most recent work that explores the lives of women who are survivors of domestic abuse in the Black Country, a post-industrial region in the UK. The book is a partnership project with Multistory, an arts organisation based in the borough of Sandwell, who commissioned and published the book.
A Room of Their Own is a multi-layered, visual story comprised of photographs, first hand testimonies and original art works, created through a collaborative, participatory process. Photographer Susan Meiselas, Multistory, women living in refuge, an illustrator and a writer worked together to make the book.
A Room of Their Own, a new book from Multistory and Magnum photographer, Susan Meiselas, is a multilayered, visual story comprised of Susan’s photographs, first hand testimonies, and original art works from women in refuge. Through a series of collaborative workshops, the women worked with Susan, plus an illustrator and a writer, during 2015 and 2016, to explore their experiences of domestic abuse and resettlement. The project was commissioned by the West Bromwich-based arts organisation, Multistory, and the book will be published in early May 2017.
The story told in A Room of Their Own is intended to share women’s experience of domestic abuse and the process of entering refuge alone, or with their children, to the collective life within, to then becoming resettled in their own home. The visual narrative emphasises absence in order to protect the women’s identities, when needed, and progressively their presence becomes more visible with the inclusion of their stories and their own artwork and, in some instances, portraits.
Fundamental to practice at the refuge is the principle that women make their own decisions; that they alone know the implications of their situation, and take responsibility for the choices that they make. The women are given the time and space to take stock of their circumstances and plan for the future. The emphasis is on helping and encouraging them to help themselves.
“I was invited by Multistory to photograph in the Black Country in the UK. The moment I entered the refuge, I felt connected to their mission. The terms of our agreement was that there could be no visual identification of the people or locations within the shelter network. However, as we developed a collaborative project with those women who wanted to participate and share their stories, some of them gained in confidence and allowed themselves to be revealed.” Susan Meiselas
A Room of Their Own is a partnership project with Multistory, Creative Black Country and (as part of the Arts Council of England’s Creative People and Places Programme). Multistory is supported by Sandwell Council and Arts Council England.
Susan Meiselas (b. 1948, Baltimore, Maryland) joined Magnum Photos in 1976 and has worked as a freelance photographer since then. She is known for her documentary work across a range of subjects and relationships over time, in particular, her coverage of human rights issues in Latin America. Her photographs are included in American and International collections.
A Room of Their Own was commissioned by Multistory, an ambitious community arts charity based in West Bromwich in the borough of Sandwell, as part of an ongoing body of photographic work and digital archive that documents life in Sandwell and the Black Country. Multistory commissions acclaimed photographers and writers to work with local people to tell their stories of every day life; recent commissions have included projects by Martin Parr, Liz Hingley and Mahtab Hussain.
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