June 13, 2013

Look3 Festival: Carrie Mae Weems

The Look3 Festival in Charlottesville begins with a conversation between Deborah Willis and Carrie Mae Weems….

Carrie Mae Weems Look3 Visual Thinking

Black women, my students, had no idea how to image themselves.

Photographers rarely used a figure, a form like me.

People wanted to know what I was doing on Rome. I didn’t realize that so many people were going all the time. And I was actually working when I was there.

As alluring as that photo above from the Kitchen Table series is — all the intimacy taking place in that gaze between her and us — what most caught my attention (as much because it came and went so quickly) was this image Weems created as part of her Constructing History series from 2008:

Weems constructing history

Instead of any intellectual or emotional impact, the payoff was almost completely a cognitive one. In reformulating the iconic Kent State photo, I was able to see the exact original for an instant in my mind’s eye.

(photo 1: VisualThinking/Catherine – Instagram. photo 2: Carrie Mae Weems. linked photo via Portland Monthly Magazine)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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