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Carrie Mae Weems: A Great Turn in the Possible
Preface by Iris Dressler, Elvira Dyangani Ose. Text by LaCharles Ward, Fred Moten. Chronology and glossary by Raul Muñoz.
The most comprehensive survey of Weems’ genre-defying oeuvre yet published
One of the most influential American artists working today, Carrie Mae Weems has investigated narratives around family, race, gender, sexism, class and the consequences of power for more than 40 years. Her complex oeuvre—always ahead of its time, and profoundly formative for younger generations of artists—has employed photography (for which she is best known), fabric, text, audio, digital images, installation and video. Writing in the New York Times, Holland Cotter succinctly described Weems as “a superb image maker and a moral force, focused and irrepressible.”
This volume, spanning four decades of work, is the most thorough survey yet published. It includes Weems’ earliest series, such as Family Pictures and Stories, for which she photographed her relatives and close friends; the legendary Kitchen Table Series, in which she posed in a domestic setting; and other critically acclaimed works and series such as Ain’t Jokin’, Colored People, From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, Not Manet’s Type, The Jefferson Suite, Monuments, Roaming, Museums, Constructing History (A Class Ponders the Future), Slow Fade to Black and the Obama Project, among many others. Contextualizing these pieces are essays by LaCharles Ward and Fred Moten and a chronology by Raul Muñoz. The book also includes a visual essay by Weems that presents a personal selection of her own works from the artist's perspective. The accompanying exhibition is organized by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with Fundación Foto Colectania, Barcelona and Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, where the exhibition Carrie Mae Weems. The Evidence Of Things Not Seen took place from April 2 through July 10, 2022.
Carrie Mae Weems (born 1953) has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships, and is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Weems lives in Brooklyn and Syracuse, New York.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
A kind of Rosetta Stone to her complex creative identity.
The New York Times Book Review
She deploys text, rephotographs or reconstructs classic photos, arranges pictures in elaborate installations, constantly questioning the medium and her place in it.
Speak[s] on behalf of what we already know about Weems, directing us towards new questions that might be generated from those narratives.
In the five essays and 40 projects included, you’ll find the foundation of a career that continues to influence a new generation of photographers.
An illuminating, if tantalising, book that makes one hope the retrospective will travel this way some time soon.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 2/1/2023
Featured spreads are from A Great Turn in the Possible, the beautifully produced catalog to the artist's recent mid-career retrospective at Fundación MAPFRE in Barcelona. Presenting works from all of Weems' important series—from her early Family Pictures and Stories (1978–84) to her seminal Kitchen Table Series (1990) to her very recent Seat or Stand and Speak (2021)—this is the most comprehensive survey of Weems’ genre-defying oeuvre yet published and the perfect start to our celebration of books that honor Black History. Weems "has always been prompted by her drive to rescue untold stories and their protagonists from oblivion into the public sphere, and to subvert the powers that marginalized or silenced those stories and their agents in the first place," Elvira Dyangani Ose writes. "Like [Toni] Morrison, Weems encourages herself and others to take ownership of their narratives and, especially on behalf of and for subjects like herself—women, working-class and Black—to articulate and reimagine the accounts of lives that have never been sufficiently valued or narrated with the esteem and rigor that the artist would have wanted; or not sufficiently, anyway, to offer the guarantee of once and for all destroying the racial prejudices so heavily rooted in the United States’ sociopolitical psyche and popular imaginary." continue to blog
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