Carrie Mae Weems – From Here I saw What Happened and Cried

Carrie Mae Weem’s reveals how photography has played a key role throughout history in shaping and supporting racism, stereotyping and social injustice. Carrie appropriated photographs of slaves in the American-South that she first found in museum and university archives.

She selected dagguerotypes from photographers who took portraits of slaves. Louis Agassiz when taking these photographs, intended these portraits to be visual evidence to support his theories of racial inferiority of Africans and an exploration of the physical types in the slave population.

Weems photographed and enlarged these images and printed them through coloured filters. She framed the red-tones prints in circular mattes intending to suggest the lens from a camera.  She places the prints beneath glass, sandblasted with heat. With the use of text, she explains ‘ This gives the subject another level of humanity and dignity that was originally missing in the photograph.’

Her imagery is visually incredibly strong, as well as conceptually. The use of the rent tint connotes strong and explicit emotions, certainly feelings stemmed from anger. This works extremely well, paired with the use of text. The use of different mediums to convey a message is interesting too.

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