Carrie Mae Weems: Speaking of Art

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In 2004, Checkerboard had the privilege of filming Carrie Mae Weems discussing her body of work, comprised of 17 projects spanning more than two decades (1981-2004).

This dynamic presentation was accompanied by slides of the artist's photographs and excerpts from her video art. The result is a chaptered lecture guided by Weems's seductive voice and passionate presence. The viewer is transported into her world as she details what she is trying to uncover, illuminate, investigate, and provoke through her lens.

Our film begins with Weems s documentation of her extensive family in the 1984 series Family Pictures and Stories and builds gradually in complexity with Ain t Jokin (1987-88), an examination of racial stereotypes, and Kitchen Table Series (1990), in which Weems, by inserting herself into the tableau, shows us woman experiencing love, motherhood, companionship, and isolation.

Series such as Sea Islands (1991-92) and From Here I Saw What Happened, and I Cried (1995-96) and later The Louisiana Project (2003) and Missing Links (2003) focus on the African diaspora and issues of race, gender, and cultural history addressed with a blend of poignancy and humor.

In 1997, Weems says she reached a point where she just could not function on the wall anymore, and so for the next three years printed her work on large swaths of fabric suspended from the ceiling to beckon movement through and around the images; this resulted in Ritual and Revolution (1998) The Jefferson Suite (1999) and The Hampton Project (2000).