This week, Your Daily Arts Break will take a look at artists whose work involves a performative aspect, where the artist inserts themself into their work, becoming the subject and breaking down distinctions between the artist and the viewer. First up, Carrie Mae Weems, who is the subject of a major new retrospective that opens in September at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
Regarding the performative nature of her work, Rob Storr writes, in the catalog to the exhibition, that “The artist herself is the pivotal figure in the scenes she stages. Indeed, like a moving-picture auteur, she is the director, set designer, costumer, and star of her own unmoving pictures. By stepping in and out of multiple roles in a manner that only the most inattentive view could miss, she signals not only her complete authorial control over every aspect of her production–but her frank admission that nothing is natural, least of all the part she plays as omnicent conjurer.”
In relation to the same subject, exhibition curator Kathryn Delmez writes that “her reasons for doing this vary from the practicality of using an available body to the conceptual desire to ‘inscribe my presence in the things I consider important. I…insert myself as the narrator of history.’ Weems believes that ‘through this act of performance, with our own bodies, we are allowed to experience and connect the historical past to the present–to the now, to the moment. By inhabiting the moment, we live the experience; we stand in the shadows of others and come to know firsthand what is often only imagined, lost, forgotten’ “‘.