Time - 100 Photographs - The Most Influential Images of All Time - USA (2019)

(Antfer) #1


Susan Meiselas traveled to Nicaragua in the late 1970s
as a young photographer with an anthropologist’s eye, keen
to make sense of the struggle between the long-standing
Somoza dictatorship and the socialist Sandinistas fighting
to overthrow it. For six weeks she roamed the country, doc-
umenting a nation of grinding poverty, stunning natural
beauty and wrenching inequality. Meiselas’ work was sym-
pathetic to the Sandinista cause, and she gained the trust
of the revolutionaries as they slowly prevailed in the fight.
On the day before President Anastasio Somoza Debayle
fled, Meiselas photographed Pablo de Jesus “Bareta” Araúz
lobbing a Molotov cocktail at one of the last national guard
fortresses. After the Sandinistas took power, the image
became the defining symbol of the revolution—a reviled
dictator toppled by a ragtag army of denim-clad fighters
wielding makeshift weapons. Eagerly disseminated by the
Sandinistas, Molotov Man soon became ubiquitous through-
out Nicaragua, appearing on matchbooks, T-shirts, bill-
boards and brochures. It later became a flash point in the
debate over artistic appropriation when the painter Joy
Garnett used it as the basis of her 2003 painting Molotov.

MOLOTOV MAN Susan Meiselas, 1979
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