Contextual Studies Task I


screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-17-36-30Susan Meiselas – Peasant supporters of FMLN. 1983

Depicted is a photograph taken by Susan Meiselas which portrays military subjects. As the viewer, the narrative is left to your own deconstruction of the subjects within. Focusing on their empty expressions, exhausted body language and fire arms held, the document clearly reflects the aftermath of a hostile war zone. There is a somewhat sense of hierarchy within the group due to the framing of the photograph. Meiselas has opted to only capture the lower body of the far left subject, thus leaving the viewer to their own interpretation. Are the subjects being forced against their will to be part of the war and lead by the faceless figure?

With the trust portrayed between the subject and photographer, we hope to assume Meiselas documentation is a faithful copy of events. The photograph bears witness to the war zone and therefore births a immortal record of a key moment in history. Without such record, it is possible any evidence of this event would not exist. Meiselas has exposed us to issues in which we haven’t yet experienced for ourselves. Shown through her choice of a wide angle supported by natural lighting which focally composes upon the age of the second subject, thus expanding the viewer interpretations of the narrative behind the photograph further.

Meiselas, S. and Magnum (2016) Latin America (1978-2004). Available at: (Accessed: 4 November 2016).