Throughout her career, photographer Carrie Mae Weems has affirmed the dignity of individual human lives in her work. Her images provide nuanced portraits of her subjects’ vulnerability and strength. This focus is evident in Weems’s 2006 series Roaming, now on view at the Guggenheim as part of the retrospective Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video. In these large-scale black-and-white photographs, Weems appears dressed in a long dark dress standing before monumental architecture and sweeping landscapes in and around Rome. Her back to the camera, she confronts these sites and invites the viewer to share her perspective—and her position—in relation to these historically charged locales.
In this video interview from Art21, Weems shares her thoughts on creating this compelling series: “Architecture, in its essence . . . is very much about power. If we think about a place like Rome . . . what one is made to feel is the power of the state in relationship to . . . the general populace. You are always aware that you are sort of a minion in relationship to this enormous edifice—the edifice of power. . . . I thought, then, perhaps . . . I could use my own skin in a sort of series of performances. That I could use my own body as a way of leading the viewer into those spaces—highly aware—and challenging those spaces.”
You can see selections from Roaming, among many other works by Weems, in Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, on view at the Guggenheim through May 14.