Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment, 2008, presents history as sequences, ‘a story within a story’, as Weems narrates at the beginning of the film. Shot in Atlanta with Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) students and produced by SCAD and the National Black Arts Festival, Constructing History layers moments of violence and social upheaval and demonstrate disruption in the path of 20th Century history and thinking. ‘The bright lights of history are now shining down at them’ Weems continues, the young people act out a series of famous archetypal moments including Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, a mother cradling her daughter during the aftermath of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and a speculated scene of a pensive James Earl Ray as he looks at his gun.These profound meanings and staged theatricality are interjected by chaotic Super-8 shots of newsreels taken from Weems’s own television and directed to the present with intimate Black and White vignettes of Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
The Baptism, 2020, is directed by artist Carrie Mae Weems and written and performed by award-winning poet Carl Hancock Rux. The work is drawn from Rux’s Baptism (of The Sharecropper's Son & The Boy From Boonville), a three-part poem and tribute to the legacies of civil rights leaders John Lewis and C.T. Vivian.
In The New York Times, Maya Phillips called the piece 'a work that is freeing and radical in a way that Black art so often doesn't get to be.'
Widely renowned as one of the most influential living American artists, Carrie Mae Weems examines how our society structures power through deeply embedded stories, images, and ideas. A gifted storyteller who works porously between text and image, Weems has developed a revolutionary approach to the expression of narratives about women, people of colour and working-class communities.
Content Warning: Parental guidance and viewer discretion is advised. Some viewers may find some of the scenes in the film distressing.
Carrie Mae Weems
Constructing History: A Requiem to Mark the Moment, 2008. Dur. 20’04”
The Baptism, 2020. Dur. 11’35”
Saturday 4th September,
(5.00-5.40, 5.40-6.20, 6.20-7.00, 7.00-7.40, 7.40-8.20)
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