Carrie Mae Weems. The Evidence of Things Not Seen

April 2 - August 21, 2022


Booklet with texts and illustrations of all works

Constructing History, 2008
Lincoln, Lonnie, And Me. A Story in Five Parts, 2012
Museums Series, seit 2016
The Louisiana Project: Missing Link, 2003

About the Exhibition

The Evidence of Things Not Seen is the first comprehensive solo exhibition of the artist Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953) in Germany.

Weems is one of the most influential contemporary artists in the United States, whose aesthetic and political impact extends far beyond the art world. In 2014 she was the first African American artist to be given a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

With over thirty bodies of work, including extensive photographic projects, videos, objects, and installations, The Evidence of Things Not Seen offers a multi-layered look at Weems’ artistic practice, which has been developing for more than thirty-five years. For the exhibition a spatial setting was designed together with the artist that follows the performative character of her practice.

Carrie Mae Weems’ works concern themselves with the questioning and appropriation of dominant historical narratives, as generated and reproduced in (educational) institutions, science, art, architecture, monuments, photography, and other mass media. By seeking out and reenacting these narratives she uncovers the unheard and unseen histories of the marginalized groups within them. Weems, who appears in many of her works herself, leads us to these blind spots in person and invites us to explore them together.

The exhibition’s focus is on the long history of violence against people of color, women, and the socially disadvantaged, which Weems counters with an equally long history of resistance. Body, beauty, ritual, magic, and spirituality, the public and private, the political and poetic are of central importance here. In this way she uncovers other possible courses of history – and thus also of the future. The classroom as an instance for preserving a certain canon of knowledge and values and at the same time as a place and stage for the collective  invention of new narratives is one of the leitmotifs of the exhibition.

Other fields of reference include the social division of the public space implemented through architecture and urban planning, the cultur-al traces of slavery, the ambivalence of popular cultures such as carnival and vaudeville, and the resistant dimensions of voice and music.

In addition to earlier works such as the photographic series From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried (1995–96) or The Kitchen Table Series (1990), the exhibition also shows numerous more recent and new works in which, for example, Weems addresses forms of public remembrance. On view for the first time is a photographic work in which Weems deals with the Berlin Holocaust Memorial in a performative way. 

A series of photographic and video projects take up the police violence against African Americans in the US, reaching from the 1960s till today. Motifs of flight, mourning, remembering, and protest are interwoven here into poetic manifestoes against forgetting.

The title of the exhibition was borrowed from the book of the same name by African American activist and writer James Baldwin. It was written against the backdrop of the murders of 30 black children and young people in Atlanta at the beginning of the 1980s and the igno- rance of the authorities towards these acts. In the context of the exhibition, this title stands for the presence and powers of the unseen.

The Evidence of Things not Seen is organized by Württembergischer Kunstverein in the context of a collaboration with Fundación MAPFRE and Fundación Foto Colectania.

Courtesy images: Carrie Mae Weems, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin

Schlossplatz 2
D-70173 Stuttgart
Fon: +49 (0)711 - 22 33 70
Fax: +49 (0)711-22 33 791
Carrie Mae Weems
Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart