Five minutes into my perusal of SAMA's Contemporary Art Collection, this work caught my attention. The photograph's caption and the artist's quote on the placard expresses an opinion on a reality that still exists-- the fact that black women and girls are often hidden from the mainstream media or if shown, in one-dimensional or insincere representations. I gasped the most at how fitting it was to see Mirror, Mirror after reading Twitter and Huffington Post responses to the Black Girls Rock! Awards on BET last week. 1987 then. 2013 now.
|Mirror, Mirror (1987)|
Ain't Jokin' (photographic project)
Carrie Mae Weems
I believe that many people do not know the definition of racism (or any of its derivatives). Not to say that I am a cultural or linguistic expert on the word's denotation... As I was watching the show I also scrolled through Twitter (it's become a thing I do now, tsk tsk) under the search #BlackGirlsRock and found some bemoaning tweets about others who had a problem with the organization. Then I purposely looked for that opposition. Many tweets looked like this: "If there was a White Girls Rock it would be racist."
I wonder who said so. Who told these people it would be racist to have a White Girls Rock or a White Entertainment Television? It would be ludicrous and pointless, not racist. Those two things already exist with ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, etc. White people are regularly represented, believed to be the default, the mainstream. There isn't a need to reaffirm the worth of a white person in the United States.
Beverly Bond created the Black Girls Rock organization to empower young girls in the arts, to show them positive role models. The awards show was so awesome to me, I wished that I could have participated in something like it when I was younger. All the honorees and their speeches made me think "Hey, I can be great too." I can be extraordinary too (had to do it). In the end it is always true that all girls rock. Black girls, white girls, South Asian girls, Asian girls. Shouldn't every girl hear that kind of encouragement?
Mirror, Mirror is part of a collection of photographs called Ain't Jokin' (1987-1988). The captions and/or titles to the other photographs are interesting and so blunt. The link to Weems' website is underneath the first image up above so check out the rest and more if you like. I appreciate seeing this at the museum and getting to discover a black female photographer and artist. Carrie Mae Weems makes me want to be an actual photographer, someone with a vision and something to say. Right below is her quote about this photograph printed on the placard at SAMA. I can imagine someone saying those words today.
It's fair to say that black folks operate under a cloud of invisibility-- this too is part of the work, is indeed central to the work.... This invisibility-- this erasure out of the complex history of our life and time-- is the greatest source of my longing.... That there are so few images of African-American women circulating in popular culture or in fine art is disturbing; the pathology behind it is dangerous. I mean, we got a sistah in the White House, and yet mediated culture excludes us, denies us, erases us. -- Carrie Mae WeemsHappy Veterans Day!
*hope its not illegal for me to post photos I took of work someone else owns...at least I found the real thing on the artist's site and added credit. Is that enough acknowledgement? Eek!