Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now at the Barbican Gallery

03.04.2023
Neil Byrne

Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now at the Barbican Gallery

03.04.2023
Neil Byrne

Over the weekend, I visited the Barbican Gallery to see the current exhibition –  Reflections for Now – which charts the work of American artist Carrie Mae Weems. Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1953, Weems has earned widespread recognition through her ground-breaking photographic work that questions the representation of Black subjects. Weems’ work sheds light on how such representations have historically perpetuated systemic racism and inequality.

The Barbican Show profoundly explores Weems’s career and presents a comprehensive overview of her output over three decades. The retrospective showcases the evolution of Weems’ vision and includes the iconic “Kitchen Table Series” from 1990, in which she contemplates themes of desire and power dynamics within the domestic sphere. In the exhibition’s second part, visitors are drawn into the compelling world of her panoramic film installation “The Shape of Things” (2021), where she masterfully addresses the current political climate and confronts the history of structural violence in the United States.

Weems’ artistry extends beyond the role of an observer. She often inserts herself as a performer and narrator of history, challenging conventional roles. Weems’ pioneering work serves as a bridge that fosters dialogue and understanding across generations and diverse communities, igniting a shared commitment to social justice and human rights. Reflections for Now is a poignant call to action for viewers to critically examine dominant historical narratives, confront inequalities, and collectively envision a more just and equitable world. Weems reminds us of the urgency to actively engage in shaping the future we want to live in.

Reflections for Now: Carrie Mae Weems. Until 3 September 2023.