Skip to main content
Carrie Mae Weems (October Files #25)

Carrie Mae Weems (October Files #25)

Current price: $24.95
Publication Date: June 1st, 2021
The MIT Press
The MIT Press Bookstore
4 on hand, as of Feb 23 6:03pm
On Our Shelves Now


Essays and interviews explore the work of Carrie Mae Weems and its place in the history of photography, African American art, and contemporary art.

In this October Files volume, essays and interviews explore the work of the influential American artist Carrie Mae Weems—her invention and originality, the formal dimensions of her practice, and her importance to the history of photography and contemporary art. Since the 1980s, Weems (b. 1953) has challenged the status of the black female body within the complex social fabric of American society. Her photographic work, film, and performance investigate spaces that range from the American kitchen table to the nineteenth-century world of historically black Hampton University to the ancient landscapes of Rome.

These texts consider the underpinnings of photographic history in Weems's work, focusing on such early works as The Kitchen Table series; Weems's engagement with photographic archives, historical spaces, and the conceptual legacy of art history; and the relationship between her work and its institutional venues. The book makes clear not only the importance of Weems's work but also the necessity for an expanded set of concerns in contemporary art—one in which race does not restrict a discussion of aesthetics, as it has in the past, robbing black artists of a full consideration of their work.


Dawoud Bey, Jennifer Blessing, Kimberly Juanita Brown, Huey Copeland, Erina Duganne, Kimberly Drew, Coco Fusco, Thelma Golden, Katori Hall, Robin Kelsey, Thomas J. Lax, Sarah Lewis, Jeremy McCarter, Yxta Maya Murray, José Rivera, Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Salamishah Tillet, Deborah Willis

About the Author

Sarah Lewis is Associate Professor of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of of a forthcoming book on photography, race, and vision within the Black Atlantic and the Black Sea.

Christine Garnier is a PhD candidate in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University.

Praise for Carrie Mae Weems (October Files #25)

Winner of a Photography Network Book Prize

"Thoughtful, thorough, and timely, this scholarly yet accessible survey reveals Weems as a foundational, influential, and prescient figure." Publishers Weekly, starred review

"With language accessible for scholars and art novices alike, these texts praise not only Weems’s work, but also the importance of having a conversation about contemporary art 'in which race does not restrict a discussion of aesthetics, as it has in the past.'"
—Town & Country

"A thoughtful and rigorous look at [Weems's] work, the questions it raises, and the boundaries it pushes and defies."
—The Boston Globe

"[Carrie Mae Weems] is acutely aware of the machinations of visual culture, how it can see certain narratives while deliberately unseeing others. Carrie Mae Weems holds this tension, touching upon the stunning scope of her vision while also acknowledging that art criticism has only just cracked the surface of her visual mysteries and provocations."

"This is a well-researched, intriguing monograph about Weems that will be helpful to anyone researching her art and interesting to any reader who wants to think about the function and construction of beauty within society."
—Library Journal