Essays and interviews explore the work of Carrie Mae Weems and its place in the history of photography, African American art, and contemporary art.
In this October Files volume, essays and interviews explore the work of the influential American artist Carrie Mae Weems—her invention and originality, the formal dimensions of her practice, and her importance to the history of photography and contemporary art. Since the 1980s, Weems (b. 1953) has challenged the status of the Black female body within the complex social fabric of American society. Her photographic work, film, and performance investigate spaces that range from the American kitchen table to the nineteenth-century world of historically Black Hampton University to the ancient landscapes of Rome.
These texts consider the underpinnings of photographic history in Weems's work, focusing on such early works as The Kitchen Table Series; Weems's engagement with photographic archives, historical spaces, and the conceptual legacy of art history; and the relationship between her work and its institutional venues. The book makes clear not only the importance of Weems's work but also the necessity for an expanded set of concerns in contemporary art—one in which race does not restrict a discussion of aesthetics, as it has in the past, robbing Black artists of a full consideration of their work.
Dawoud Bey, Jennifer Blessing, Kimberly Juanita Brown, Huey Copeland, Erina Duganne, Kimberly Drew, Coco Fusco, Thelma Golden, Katori Hall, bell hooks, Robin Kelsey, Thomas J. Lax, Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, Jeremy McCarter, Yxta Maya Murray, José Rivera, Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Salamishah Tillet, Deborah Willis
October Files is a series of inexpensive paperback books edited by the editors of October journal. Each book addresses a body of work by an artist of the postwar period who has altered our understanding of art in significant ways and prompted a critical literature that is sophisticated and sustained. Each book in this series traces not only the development of an important oeuvre but also the construction of the critical discourse inspired by it.
Lewis, Sarah Elizabeth (ed.), et. al. Carrie Mae Weems - October Files. MIT Press, June 2021.