Opening Reception: Saturday, October 26.
2 - 5 pm
For over thirty years, Carrie Mae Weems has been sharing her distinct voice through powerful and provocative photographs and video works that directly confront racial and social stereotypes. Weems consistently asks her audience to reconsider historical record, generating a dynamic visual conversation between past and present. In a moment of international celebration with her museum retrospective Three Decades of Photography and Video and receipt of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Award - Rhona Hoffman Gallery is pleased to present her fourth solo show with the gallery, Slow Fade to Black.
Diverse in its selection of works, the exhibition highlights the depth of Weems’ oeuvre. In the 1995-96 series From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, she appropriated historic photographs depicting African-Americans in a racist manner and etched text overtop the image to give voice to the otherwise voiceless subjects. The 2010-11 series that lends the exhibition its title, Slow Fade to Black, focuses on African-American female performers from Josephine Baker to Marion Anderson. Though the images are masked by lack of focus or colored tints, Weems’ photographs bring to light figures on the brink of disappearance from our cultural memory.
Storytelling and performance play an essential role for Weems, who studied folklore as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. In Constructing History, subjects reenact historical moments from the Civil Rights Movement; the inclusion of lighting tracks, pedestals, cameras, and props in this series calls attention to the media’s ability to control collective memory. In the video installation Lincoln, Lonnie, and Me, installed in the second floor gallery, Weems turned the camera on herself. Brought to life through the “Pepper’s ghost” illusion technique, characters in this 18-minute theatrical video projection weave a complex story, conflating the past with the present and evidencing the fact that history is perpetually being re-written.
Carrie Mae Weems was born in Portland, Oregon in 1953. She earned a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego, continuing her studies in the Graudate Program in Folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Awards include the MacArthur Fellowship (2013), Lifetime Achievement Award from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (2013), Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2007), Skowhegan Medal for Photography (2007), Rome Prize Fellowship (2006), the Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant in Photography (2002), and others. Organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville and accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, a long-overdue retrospective, Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, is currently on view at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University, and will travel to the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in January 2014. Weems’ work has appeared in major exhibitions at Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois (2011); Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia (2008); W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts (2007); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1998), among others. Carrie Mae Weems lives and works in Syracuse, New York.