Carrie Mae Weems, If I Ruled The World, 2004 / Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now
Jun 22 – Sep 3, 2023
Barbican Art Gallery
London, UK

Barbican Art Gallery is proud to present the first major solo exhibition of Carrie Mae Weems in a UK institution. Widely considered to be one of the most influential American artists working today, Weems (b.1953) is celebrated for her exploration of cultural identity, power structures, desire, and social justice through a body of work that develops questioning narratives around race, gender, history, class and their systems of representation.

Highlighting her remarkably diverse and radical practice, this survey brings together an outstanding selection of photographic series, films, and installations spanning over three decades, many of which have never been seen before in the UK. Presenting the development of her unique poetic gaze and formal language from the early 1990s to the present day, this exhibition reflects on Weems’s pioneering career. On display are works from her early iconic Kitchen Table Series (1990) which explores how power dynamics are articulated in the domestic sphere and the potential of the home as a space for resistance, to her acclaimed series Roaming (2006) and Museums (2016) where Weems’s muse confronts architecture as the materialisation of political and cultural power. Her oeuvre challenges dominant ideologies and historical narratives created by and disseminated within science, architecture, photography, and mass media.

Activism is central to Weems’s artistic practice, as she has stated:
“My responsibility as an artist is to work, to sing for my supper, to make art, beautiful and powerful, that adds and reveals; to beautify the mess of a messy world, to heal the sick and feed the helpless; to shout bravely from the roof-tops and storm barricaded doors and voice the specifics of our historic moment”.

[ . . . ]

The exhibition is accompanied by Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now, the first publication devoted to the artist’s writings. It will highlight Weems’s influence as an intellectual, reflecting the dual nature of her career as an artist and activist. A public program of events, including a programme of films in Barbican cinema, will also run throughout the course of the exhibition.

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