Lena on the Bally Box, Essex Junction, Vermont, from Carnival Strippers
American, born 1948
“Carnival Strippers,” Susan Meiselas’s first major photographic essay focuses on the lives of women performing striptease in county fairs in New England, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. From 1972 to 1975 Meiselas spent summers photographing and interviewing her subjects while teaching photography in New York public schools during the remainder of the year. She followed the “girl shows” from town to town, documenting the women’s public performances as well as their private lives. Meiselas’s frank description of the lives of these performers brought a rarely-seen world to public attention. Produced during the feminist movement, “Carnival Strippers” also explores the feminine identity struggle that characterized this complex era of change.