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Picturing IdentityContemporary American Autobiography in Image and Text$
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Hertha D. Sweet Wong

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640709

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640709.001.0001

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Carrie Mae Weems’s Photo-(Auto)biographies

Carrie Mae Weems’s Photo-(Auto)biographies

“Work That Is Essential to Our Cultural Dialogue”

(p.171) Carrie Mae Weems’s Photo-(Auto)biographies
Picturing Identity

Hertha D. Sweet Wong

University of North Carolina Press

African American photographer and folklorist Carrie Mae Weems examines in image and text the nature of memory and history, insisting on a critique of historical wrongs as part of a process of self-formulation. As a storyteller-artist, she envisions the artist as the “narrator of history.” This chapter explores the development of her photo-autobiographies from photo-text sequences hung on gallery walls to elaborate architectural installation pieces that require viewers to enter and navigate the narrative visual-verbal space with its many surfaces and interfaces. In the process of showing and telling through photographs and texts and reframing photographic archives, she represents the historical legacy of racial violence to provoke readers-viewers to become aware of injustice and the false narratives that enable it.

Keywords:   Carrie Mae Weems, Photo-Autobiography, African American Photography, Memory, Photographic Archives

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