Susan Meiselas – Kurdistan

LOCATION: Kasernplan. MAP. Included in festival ticket

Susan Meiselas photo by Meryl Levin

Susan Meiselas (born 1948) is a documentary photographer. She lives and works in New York. For several decades she has covered wars and conflicts, as well as their root causes. Her journalistic method is investigative and patient. Her work has earned her some of the world’s most prestigious prizes, for example, Sweden’s finest prize for photography, the Hasselblad Prize. 

There are some places to which Meiselas returns, Kurdistan being one of them. Between 1991 and 2008 she visited Kurdistan and took a large amount of photos. The selection shown at the festival has been made by Monica Allende, artistic director, and the exhibition is unique to Landskrona. 

The first time Meiselas came to Kurdistan was in connection with the Kuwait War. Iran granted her an entry permit and access to Kurdish refugee camps. These camps had been bombed during the war. Meiselas travelled on the same roads the Kurds had used to escape. She made her way to destroyed villages in order to document them. Later she returned to the region along with Human Rights Watch. Among other things, she assisted with the forensic work of documenting mass graves. Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, thousands of Kurds were murdered. 

Photographs of Kamaran Abdullah Saber 20 years old, held by his family at Saiwan Hill cemetery. He was killed in July 1991 during a student demonstration against Saddam Hussein. Kurdista

Kurdistan became an obsession for Meiselas. Alongside her own journalistic work, she began collecting additional material. She picked up family photographs, portraits, documents and stories from the region. In this way she has created a collection of sources covering hundreds of years of the Kurds’ hidden history. The material displays people who have lived in the place, but also those who have described and depicted it. The Kurds are the world’s largest ethnic group who do not have a state of their own, and they have been continually threatened with assimilation or extermination. Today there are about 60,000 Kurds living in Sweden.