The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 19, 2024

The Shape of Things from the "Africa" series

The Shape of Things from the "Africa" series

(American, b. 1953)
Image: 50 x 49.6 cm (19 11/16 x 19 1/2 in.); Paper: 50.2 x 50.2 cm (19 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.)
© Carrie Mae Weems
Location: not on view


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.
  • Sims, Lowery Stokes. The persistence of geometry: form, content, and culture in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2006. no. 135, p. 124
    Delmez, Kathryn E. Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video. Nashville, TN: Frist Center for the Visual Arts, 2012. ex. cat. no. 92., p. 122
  • Signs of Life: Recent Photography Acquisitions. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (November 22, 2003-April 7, 2004).
    The Persistence of Geometry: Form, Content and Culture in the Collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA), Cleveland, OH (June 9-August 20, 2006).
    Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video. Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN (organizer) (September 21, 2012-January 13, 2013); Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR (February 2-May 19, 2013); The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (June 30-September 29, 2013); Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, CA (October 16, 2013-January 5, 2014); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (January 24-May 14, 2014).
  • {{cite web|title=The Shape of Things from the "Africa" series|url=false|author=Carrie Mae Weems|year=1993|access-date=19 February 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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