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Φ ALCHEMIST ⊕

Time traveler

CARRIE
MAE
WEEMS
 photographer,
stealth
documentarian
 “I'm very aware of linking my figures to a historical narrative.”


 
 Cultures all over the world–from the Amish to the Aborigines– caution against the camera’s soulstealing power. Maybe they’ve got it wrong. Maybe the camera’s true power comes not from stealing one’s soul, but from revealing it. Carrie Mae Weems’ work changes contexts, creates new frames of reference, so that a fairy tale exchange reflects the nightmare of disenfranchisement. Shot predominantly in black and white with spare, prosaic backdrops, her lenswork functions on two levels: it reconfigures history’s broad strokes by reestablishing an intimacy with the people affected by change and it captures slices of everyday life that manage to be simultaneously specific and universal. Her Kitchen Table series tells the story of a woman’s life, with nothing more than props (not the Kool DJ Red Alert kind) and body language. Family photos vanish from the background and people appear and disappear around the same plain table. Homework gets done and hair gets braided. Expressions 1953: born in Portland, OR. 1976: takes a photography and poses change and a slew of meanings wells up around the class at the Studio Museum in photographs. If you look at it the right way, she tells the viewer, you Harlem can re-imagine your image, make your own story. You can mourn or memorialize the past without having to romanticize it. mos def-inition: The Louisiana Project


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