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Carrie Mae Weems,Wikipedia From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995-96)

Carrie Mae Weems, You Became an Accomplice, 1995–96
Carrie Mae Weems, You Became an Accomplice, 1995–96

… i start by reading the opening paragraph and i understand a great tragedy is being talked about, remembered…

I sliced a watermelon open across its belly last summer and gasped, as the red flesh and black seeds resembled bodies inside the barracoon. When I go to the nation’s edge and put my feet into the shore of the Atlantic, I think of women throwing their babies overboard to be set free by the water, and the crashing waves turn to screams. When I ask my grandmother about her time on the cotton plantations of Louisiana, she rolls her eyes: “Here she go remembering again.”1

… an exhibit at MoMA, bastion of the patriarchy… appropriated images rendered in blood red with captions overlaid… they are circles within rectangular frames, shifted up and off center, optical centering?, it seems a bit more than that, circles within the square too… platonic harmonies are at work?, a white European lineage…

In 1996, Harvard threatened to sue Weems for her use of Zealy’s images, as she had originally agreed not to appropriate them without permission, but then changed her mind. Instead, as Weems later recounted to Willis, she summoned the university, saying, “I think that your suing me would be a really good thing. You should, and we should have this conversation in court.” The question of ownership shows itself again. Who is entitled to images of enslaved humans who were captured by Europeans? Harvard backed down and simply acquired Weems’s collection. Capitalism is but a white sheet.2

… circles, rectangles, 33 images, a divine number… they cover the tragedy of black imbedded in the blood red hue of slavery and discrimination, imbedded in the march of European civilization…

… a quarter century after the work was first exhibited, the tragedy continues unfolding, if anything, we go backwards it seems…


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