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Carrie Mae Weems

The Evidence of Things Not Seen

GEGENWART / 26.10.2023–07.04.2024 / Curator: Maja Wismer

In her current show entitled The Evidence of Things Not Seen at the Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart, North American artist Carrie Mae Weems, born in 1953, asks us to join her in exploring blind spots in (contemporary) history. For some 40 years she has been probing prevailing historical accounts of events and exposing the ways in which these are constructed and projected in politics, science, art, the mass media, photography and architecture. By the purposeful tracking down of specific sites or by re-enacting select historical realities, she lays bare the narratives of marginalised groups, and thus, through her art, presents us with narratives as yet neglected by contemporary historiography. These gaps, to which the exhibition’s title alludes, emerge by way of dominant power structures, social segmentation in urban planning, or quite simply, through racism; whereby it is the latter issue that comprises the focus of Carrie Mae Weems’ comprehensive photographic projects, videos and installations. Yet she contrasts the long history of violence against people of colour with the no less lengthy history of resistance, and in doing so, analyses both aspects with acute insight.
In 2014, Carrie Mae Weems was the first black American artist to hold a retrospective at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Weems’ work has long been well known beyond the art scene in the United States. High time, indeed, that this powerful, political oeuvre is also introduced to a broader public in Europe!

The exhibition is based on The Evidence of Things Not Seen, Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, 4.2. to 21.8.22 A Great Turn in The Possible, Fundación MAPFRE and Fundación Foto Colectania, Barcelona, 5.10.22 to 15.1.23; and Reflections for Now, Barbican Centre, London, 22.6. to 15.1.23.

The publication Carrie Mae Weems. Reflections for Now (Hatje Cantz, June 2023) will also be available in the Museum Shop in November 2023. The book is dedicated for the first time to the writings of Carrie Mae Weems and includes a selection of texts, interviews, and images of photographs by the artist. The publication was produced in close collaboration with the Barbican Centre, London.