Carnival Strippers Revisited | Susan Meiselas’ Photo Essay From 1976

Carnival Strippers, originally a photo essay following the women who performed in travelling ‘girl shows’ in the United States from 1972 to 1975, is often held as a pioneering example of a photographic project that shares authorship with the subjects of its images.

Interrogating gender politics and self-representation, the project is defined as much by the testimonies of the women involved as the photographs Meiselas took of them. The project sought to make a feminist argument which resounds particularly today as the project celebrates 50 years since its making.

A third edition publication of the project, published as ‘Carnival Strippers Revisited’ now unfolds the central themes of the work through the additional of new material. Published on Steidl, it includes unseen color photographs, contact sheets, handwritten field notes, and interview transcriptions. Carnival Strippers Revisited explores how representation of ourselves and others is a process that refracts through many layers. In these layers, the creation of our stories is a collective activity mediated by multiple and far-reaching points of view.

In this new video, we share audio material from Meiselas’ interviews with the strippers and other carnival workers. Through testimonies not traditionally represented within the women’s liberation movement, the showgirls’ answers lucidly deconstruct the workings of patriarchy. At the same time, their managers’ disparaging comments provide a poignant and ironic counterpoint.

Meiselas, who sought to document a phenomenon already in decline, was interested in the ways we capture history from early on during her career. With this new expansion on Carnival Strippers, we see the project as a forerunner to her later explorations of archives in her works in Nicaragua and Kurdistan. Read curator Abigail Soloman-Godeau’s essay contextualising the photographer’s practice here.

Susan Meiselas is an American photographer who was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1948. Her first major project, which we’ll look at here focused on the lives of women doing striptease at New England country fairs. Meiselas photographed at the fairs for three consecutive summers while also teaching photography in New York public schools. Carnival Strippers was published in 1976.

Speaking of the project, Meiselas said, “From 1972 to 1975, I spent my summers photographing and interviewing women who performed striptease for small town carnivals in New England, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. As I followed the girl shows from town to town, I photographed the dancers’ public performances as well as their private lives. I also taped interviews with the dancers, their boyfriends, the show managers, and paying customers.”

“The women I met ranged in age from seventeen to thirty-five. Most had left small towns, seeking mobility, money and something different from what was prescribed or proscribed by their lives that the carnival allowed them to leave. They were runaways, girlfriends of carnies, club dancers, both transient and professional. They worked out of a traveling box, a truck that unfolded to form two stages, one opening to the public carnival grounds, another concealed under a tent for a private audience. A dressing room stands between them. Again and again, throughout the day and night, the woman performers moved from the front stage, with its bally call—the talker’s spiel that entices the crowd—to the stage, where they each perform for the duration of a 45 pop record.”

“The all-male audience typically included farmers, bankers, fathers, and sons, but “no ladies and no babies.” The degree of suggestion on the front stage and participation on the back stage under the tent varied greatly from town to town, depending on legislation and local leniency. The show stayed at each spot for three to five days each year; then the carnival was torn down, the truck packed up, and the women followed.”

In her introduction to Carnival Strippers, Meiselas said, “The girl show is a business and carnival stripping is competitive and seasonal. Those women who make it a career find winter employment on a series of related circuits—go-go bars, strip clubs, stag parties, and occasional prostitution. For most women the carnival is an interlude on the way to jobs as waitresses, secretaries and housewives.”

TikTok Trend Is Convincing People To Scratch Their Camera Lenses With Rocks

Some photographers on TikTok are trying an unconventional technique for unusual results: taking a rock to the front of their lenses, scratching the glass, and destroying them in the process.

Photographer Illumitati posted a video of her using a rock to mortally wound her Canon 50mm f/1.8 in response to a viral video made by Andres Videography where he appeared to do the same to his lens.

However, Andres didn’t actually scratch his lens; eagle-eyed viewers will notice that he was actually scratching a lens filter placed on his Sony 85mm.

But in Illumitati’s case, she actually takes a rock to the front element of her 50mm. Speaking to PetaPixel she explains what happened.

“I saw another person do it with a filter, and my intrusive thoughts told me to try it on the lens for real,” she says.

“This came up on my ‘for your page’ and as a photographer, I’d never cringed harder in my life,” Illumitati says in her TikTok video.

“But then I was so curious to see what a photo from that camera would look like I actually destroyed one of my lenses,” she continues. “Then I set it down and got ready to take a couple of portraits and to my surprise, it actually gave it this glow. I don’t recommend doing this to your lenses but hey, it’s kind of cool.”

When asked by PetaPixel, the portrait and fashion photographer seemed to have no regrets over the video.

“I really did scratch it, and the photos were actually not bad at all. The lens is really not great in the first place so I don’t think I’d use it,” she says.

It’s not the first time TikTok photographers have shown off unusual techniques. Last month PetaPixel featured a photographer who uses ripped pantyhose for a soft-focus effect, and a wedding photographer who asked couples to act like they’re drunk while shooting pictures.

Source: PetaPixel

Apple Shows Off Surreal Photo Collages That Were Shot And Edited On iPhone

Apple’s long-running Shot on iPhone campaign has now entered a dreamlike realm, where all imaginations are attainable with the right mindset… or app.

The Cupertino giant has commissioned Melbourne graphic designer Gaia Barnatan, who goes by the alias Liquid Pink, to transform eight photos—shot on an iPhone, of course—into four surreal compositions. 

Here, ordinary objects like a burnt matchstick and a strawberry aren’t so predictable anymore when juxtaposed against stunning skies.

According to 9to5Mac, the artist created these photo fusions on the Bazaart app, which enables easy double-exposure shots like these ones, thanks to its magic background eraser and capacity for 100 photo layers (or five video layers).

Your camera roll doesn’t always have to be filled with food photos and screenshots.

Source: DesignTAXI

How Food Commercials Are Made

Have you ever wondered how food looks so mouthwatering in advertisements? Steve Giralt is a food photographer. He has worked for brands like Hershey’s, Budweiser, Pepsi, and Starbucks. Steve uses a symphony of people, cameras, and robots to get the perfect shot.

Ogilvy Will Refuse To Work With Creators Who Airbrush Faces And Bodies In Photos

Ogilvy UK, one of the world’s leading advertising agencies, has announced it will no longer be partnering with influencers who retouch their faces or bodies in brand campaigns, as part of an initiative to combat the ills of social media.

Rahul Titus, Ogilvy’s Head of Influence, told The Drum that consumers look to content creators as the “authentic side” of marketing, but with how distorted their images have become, it’s now “harmful” to those who frequent social networking platforms.

In addition, Titus hopes the company’s brand-new commitment to not working with influencers who alter their pictures will aid in the UK government passing the Digitally Altered Body Image Bill, which would require brand spokespersons to disclose edited content to consumers. 

As Dr Luke Evans, the Member of Parliament who introduced the bill, put it: “These edited images do not represent reality, and are helping to perpetuate a warped sense of how we appear, with real consequences for people suffering with body confidence issues.” 

Over the next two months, the agency plans to roll out its changes in separate phases: first, by consulting brands and influencers on the new policy, then by implementing the ban. It has said all edited sponsored or paid-for content influencer posts will cease by December this year. 

If you’re wondering if influencers will still be allowed to edit their pictures at all, the answer is yes. Ogilvy will still permit work with adjusted contrast or brightness. It draws the line at retouches made to a subject’s skin or body. 

In order to ensure influencers are compliant, the firm will make use of ‘InfluenceO’, an emerging technology stack that detects when pictures have been retouched or distorted. 

Overall, Titus said he hopes the agency will be a leader in the industry and will spur a change in influencer marketing all over the globe.

Just maybe, after years of editing and retouching, we’re moving towards embracing our real selves.

Source: DesignTAXI