Susan Meiselas
Soldiers search bus passengers along the Northern Highway, El Salvador, 1980

In the late 1970s Meiselas established her reputation as a documentary photographer with a project on carnival strippers in New England. The work earned her membership in the elite photo agency Magnum, which was founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and others in 1947.

Meiselas spent nearly the next ten years photographing the civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. This picture vividly conveys the tension of life during wartime. The harsh sunlight creates looming silhouettes of the bus passengers and soldiers. The long shadows describe bodily gestures of fear, authority, and submission. The anonymity of the scene heightens the drama: it is utterly unknown who these people are, what the soldiers are looking for, and what eventually happened to those involved

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Soldiers search bus passengers along the Northern Highway, El Salvador
Artist name
Susan Meiselas
Date created
gelatin silver print
16 in. × 19 7/8 in. (40.64 × 50.48 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Accessions Committee Fund purchase
© Susan Meiselas / Magnum Photos
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

Other Works by Susan Meiselas

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