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
Soldiers search bus passengers along the Northern Highway, El Salvador
Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at email@example.com to confirm it will be on view.
Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at email@example.com.