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Work of Carrie Mae Weems, Art School Alumna, at the Guggenheim

‘Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video’ at the Guggenheim

January 29, 2014

By Mika Pollack

Last week, in a feat of inept timing, a magazine published, on Martin Luther King Day, a photograph of the pert Russian art collector Dasha Zhukova posed on a Bjarne Melgaard chair crafted to resemble a voluptuous and supine black woman.

It so happens that later in the week the Guggenheim opened a retrospective of the work of Carrie Mae Weems. The exhibition, curated by Kathryn Delmez, surveys the MacArthur Grant-winning artist’s 30-year career, over which she has contributed considerable thought to the place of the black, female body in American life and art.

Starting with her Cal Arts M.F.A. thesis, Family Pictures and Stories (1978-84), which exhibited images of her own family, Ms. Weems created staged photographs paired with text responding to stereotypes about black life. Her career begins with verve and humor. Her tongue-in-cheek 1987-88 photograph series Ain’t Jokin contains an image of a young black woman looking in the mirror; a gauzy white witch appears before her. The caption reads, “Looking into the mirror, the black woman asked. ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the finest of them all?’ The mirror says, ‘Snow White, you black bitch, and don’t you forget it!!!’” Read more.

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