Each year the CONTACT Photography Festival spotlights a few artists.  This year, Carrie Mae Weems is one of them.  As I’ve walked around Toronto the past month I have tried to check out all the place where Weems’s work is on display.

below: On Spadina, just north of King is a large portrait of Mary J. Bilge (singer and actor) in red with the title “Anointed”.  In the photo, Bilge is being crowned by Weems.

a large red photo of a woman being crowned, sitting in profile, the word anointed is written in large letters on the picture. Mounted on the side of a red brick building

below: A small pink photo of a girl in the parking lot that is adjacent to the building where the above photo is mounted.  The marks on the girl’s face are problems with the display case, not with the photo.

a pink and black photo of a girl's head, on a small display in a parking lot, with a Huawei ad behind it. Ad features that head of a model

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below: At the Contact Gallery, 80 Spadina Avenue, part of ‘Blending the Blues’ which is collection of images from a few different projects that Weems has done over her thirty year career.  The picture shown here is “Untitled” 2017.

detailed picture of a woman sitting at a table with lots of things around her, on the table, behind her, and in front of the table, by Carrie mae Weems, the photo is only in blues and black

below: From ‘Blue Notes” 2014-2015 which involves blue toned images of people with coloured rectangles obscuring part of their faces.   The picture on the right is a copy of the Booking Sheet for Sandra Bland who was charged with assaulting a public servant (i.e. police officer) in July 2015.  She was died in police custody a three days later.

park of an exhibit in a gallery showing the picture of a black boy with a large red rectangle acros his face, beside it is an enlargement of the arrest record of a black man in Ferguson Missouri

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“Scenes and Take”, 2016, is composed of two large photos (“Director’s Cut” and “The Bad and the Beautiful” below) on the outside walls of the TIFF Bell Lightbox at the corner of King West and Widmer Streets.  Each photograph is accompanied by text which reads as a summary for movie.  For instance, the text for “The Bad and the Beautiful” starts as “The Plot: Bright and beautiful, a young would-be starlet in Hollywood seeking fame and fortune.  Along the way, she encounters erroneous assumptions, bad luck, and dangerous men.”

large photo on a wall outside, of a woman in a long black dress, back to camera, one hand on door sill as she stands in open doorway, by Carrie Mae Weems

The photos are of Weems as a muse, or the embodiment of the black female gaze.  She places herself on the set of ‘Scandal’, a series created by Shonda Rhimes and starring Kerry Washington.

two large photos mounted on two walls that meet at the corner of King West and Widmer, two people walking them including a woman in a head scarf

‘Slow Fade to Black’, 2010,  is a series of large posters on King Street West near Metro Hall – black performers slowly fading from fame and memory.   They address the representation of Black women in popular culture

series of large panel photos by Carrie Mae Weems, Slow Fade to Black, each photo is a person or a face that is blurry, done with one colour on black

‘Slow Fade to Black’ was also the name of a book subtitled, the Negro in American Film 1900-1942 written by Thomas Cripps and published in 1977.

two men walk past two large photos on King Street, Slow Fade to Black photo by Carrie Mae Weems, one is blue and black and the other is burgundy and black

Performers, all black women, portrayed in this series: Katherine Dunham, Koko Taylor, Eartha Kitt, Abbey Lincoln, Dinah Washington (twice), Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Josephine Baker (twice), Mahalia Jackson, Leontyne Price, and Nina Simone.

people sitting in a streetcar with their back to the window, can see large photo on exhibit on opposite sidewalk through the windows of the streetcar

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And last, at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (the Art Museum at the University of Toronto), is ‘Heave’.  From the gallery’s website, “multi-part installation Heave combines photography, video, news media sampling, as well as ephemera to probe the devastating effects of violence in our life and time. The complex installation explores the spectacle of violence in our contemporary lives relocating this present within sustained histories of conflict and uprising.”

a collection of pictures on the wall and Life magazines on a table, part of Heave, an exhibit by Carrie Mae Weems at University of Toronto art museum and gallery

living room furniture arrangement as part of a gallery exhibit, heave, by carrie Mae Weems

4 people watching a video on a large screen, one person is standing while 3 people are sitting on a bench with their backs to the camera

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