David Alan Harvey interview of Susan Meiselas on BURN
David Alan Harvey: Young photographers are looking towards us to help them find the way. We are struggling with that, but you’ve evolved from a photo journalist at a very early age, and now you’ve become a curator and you’ve been leading the Magnum Foundation. So, I am sure you don’t think you’ve got all the answers, but how do you see the Magnum Foundation and the role that it can play in helping to shape young peoples aspirations?
Susan Meiselas: I think, if we go back to why we started the Foundation (and it was many years of thinking) we were anticipating the crisis that we now are experiencing. I think there were a lot of signs that there was going to be a shift that photographers such as ourselves, people working for the most part in long form and the documentary tradition, would face. We saw that we would no longer have partners for production which were needed to do the kind of work we are still committed to doing. Whether it was the National Geographic (as in your case) or a variety of news magazines, when you were out in the world covering events that were unfolding over time, let’s say — witnessing, observing, following — and trying to make sense of history-making of various kinds… your ability to do so was sustained either through assignment partners or the possibility of reproduction later. So, you invested your time with the belief that there would be a vehicle, and those partners were very strong and essential support.
The founders of Magnum were smart about figuring out very early how to create a network of sub agents so that there was an international framework of exposure and distribution for the work they created. That was a huge gift that our generation inherited from those who invented it, in particular at Magnum, but other agencies formed similar networks over the last decades as well. That international reproduction machine for “second sales” made it possible to work over longer periods of time, with multiple channels of financing beyond the original assignment.
So, how does a Foundation fit in now? First of all, it’s just as important to document the world. That has not changed. And you have an easier means of distribution now with the internet, so the question is how do you generate funds to produce, especially if you can’t easily monetize through the resale of your work, for the most part, or one does with greater difficulty..
FULL interview after the link.