"You know, art can be something which can really disempower people, or it can be a vehicle which can empower people."
From the series, "Exclusive"
Filmed in her Syracuse studio, artist Carrie Mae Weems discusses the impetus for her work "The Kitchen Table Series" (1990), a photographic investigation of a single domestic space in which the artist staged scenes of "the battle around the family" between women and men, friends and lovers, parents and children.
Carrie Mae Weems's vibrant explorations of photography, video, and verse breathe new life into traditional narrative forms—social documentary, tableaux, self-portrait, and oral history. Eliciting epic contexts from individually framed moments, Weems debunks racist and sexist labels, examines the relationship between power and aesthetics, and uses personal biography to articulate broader truths. Whether adapting or appropriating archival images, restaging famous news photographs, or creating altogether new scenes, she traces an indirect history of the depiction of African Americans for more than a century.
Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Catherine Tatge. Camera: Joel Shapiro. Sound: Roger Phenix. Editor: Joaquin Perez. Artwork Courtesy: Jack Shainman Gallery & Carrie Mae Weems. Special Thanks: Elvira Dyangani Ose. Video: © 2011, Art21, Inc. All rights reserved.