A grand panorama of race and civil unrest in America’s past and present
Carrie Mae Weems has often confronted the uncomfortable truths of racism and race relations over the course of her nearly 40-year career. In The Shape of Things she focuses her unflinching gaze at what she describes as the circuslike quality of contemporary American political life. For this new work, Weems created a seven-part film projected onto a Cyclorama―a panoramic-style cylindrical screen that dates to the 19th century―where she addresses the turmoil of current events in the United States and the “long march forward.” Drawing on news and TV footage from the civil rights era to today, elements of previous films such as The Madding Crowd (2017) and new film projects that bring us into our tumultuous present, the films in The Shape of Things combine documentary directness with poetic rhythm to create an enveloping experience. The films are narrated by Weems, and the layering of her resonant voice with these images articulates the dangerous mounting resistance to the “browning of America.” As Weems shows in these powerful works, America is irreversibly changed and changing.
Carrie Mae Weems (born 1953) has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships, and is represented in public and private collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Weems lives in Brooklyn and Syracuse, New York.