Carrie Mae Weems
October 25, 2014 – January 25, 2015
A selection of images from Carrie Mae Weems extensive body of work will be exhibited as part of Prospect.3: Notes for Now.
For more than thirty years, Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953) has addressed race, gender, and inequality in the United States in her varied photographic practice. Acknowledging the camera’s inability to capture the “whole picture,” Weems sees this lack as an opportunity to use the frame to tell new stories. Her oeuvre explores, as she describes it, our “deeper humanity,” focusing on our relationships to each other and our history so as to empower change. In 1990, Weems inserted herself as the main character in one of her best-known bodies of work, The Kitchen Table Series. Dozens of images invite the viewer to step inside a woman’s life, bearing witness to her relationships with men, her friends, her children, and herself. Taken from the viewer’s standpoint at one end of a long kitchen table, the black-and-white photographs capture intimate moments occurring at the opposite end. Characteristic of Weems’s practice, the images do not intend to be a specific study of the black body, the female body, or any narrowly defined stereotype but aim instead to emphasize the intricacies of our lives beyond labels. In many works, Weems has acted as the subject-representative, while other works have developed through her encounters with individuals or historical documents. Her practice now includes video, digital imagery, soundtracks, and text, often accompanying one another. In the multimedia installation Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me—A Story in 5 Parts (2012), which is included in P.3, people from the past and the present appear as holograms in a re-creation of the nineteenth-century “Pepper’s Ghost” illusion. As jazz music drifts through the space, the ghostly figures emerge from red curtains drawn across a stage, telling stories of difference. The characters, by addressing viewers directly, transpose them from passive onlookers into active subjects. The piece embodies the underlying premise of Weems’s entire oeuvre—inspiring viewers to continue asking themselves where they came from, who they are and aspire to be, and whom they love. The installation will be accompanied by a selection of photographs from her series “Missing Links”, “Louisiana Project” and the video “Meaning and Landscape”.
Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953, Portland, Oregon) is a 2013 MacArthur grant recipient. She received he B.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts, and her M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego. Weems is the focus of a major retrospective, Carrie Mae Weems: 3 Decades of Photography and Video, which began its five venue run at The Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville and concluded at the Guggenheim Museum, New York this year. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the New Museum, New York; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art, California; and Africus Institute for Contemporary Art, Johannesburg, South Africa, among countless others.
*Artist information is adapted from the Prospect.3: Notes for Now exhibition catalog essay by Emily Wilkerson