The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of April 24, 2018

The Shape of Things from the "Africa" series, 1993

gelatin silver print, triptych, Image: 49.6 x 49.6 cm (19 1/2 x 19 1/2 in.); Paper: 50.2 x 50.2 cm (19 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.). John L. Severance Fund 2000.89.c

Since the late 1970s, Carrie Mae Weems has challenged society’s stereotypes about gender,
race, and class through photographs and texts she often assembles with objects into compelling
installations. During her first trip to Africa in 1993, she photographed the vestiges of slavery along
the coast of Ghana and Senegal as well as the entry ways, towers, and corridors of Djenné,
Mali, one of the oldest urban sites in Western Africa. She was particularly taken by the city’s
distinctive, ancient architecture and the buildings’ ability to suggest gender specificity - "male and
female space."
In this summary work from Weems’s Africa Series, she flanked a detail image of a mosque and its
protruding towers with two close-up views of sensual entrances and openings on the façades
of granaries. She skillfully created both a beautiful formal record of a physical place and its culture
and a stimulating narrative that evokes identity and human interaction.

Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland Museum of Art; November 22, 2003 - April 7, 2004. "Signs of Life: Recent Photography Acquisitions", no exhibition catalogue.
MOCA Cleveland (6/9/2006 - 8/20/2006): "The Persistence of Geometry: Form, Content and Culture in the Collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art"
Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN (9/21/2012 - 1/13/2013), Portland Art Museum, OR (2/2/2013 - 5/19/2013), The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH (6/30/2013-9/29/2013), Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University (10/16/2013 - 1/5/2014), and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY (2/1/2014 - 5/1/2014)* : "Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video", ex. cat. no. 92., p. 122.

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Detail Views