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Carrie Mae Weems: the photographer recreating and reframing famous historical moments

Ahead of her largest European show to date, the artist tells us why her early work focused on her family and how she grew to embrace large-scale installation

Carrie Mae Weems is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential American artists working today. She is most celebrated as a photographer, but her complex body of work encompasses video, text, installation, sound and digital images and has been challenging representations of race, gender and class for more than four decades. Laurie Simmons, Mickalene Thomas, Shirin Neshat, Catherine Opie and Hank Willis Thomas are among the vast community of artists who acknowledge the impact of this senior figure on their work.

In 2014 Weems was the first African American woman to be given a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and in 2021 she took over the Park Avenue Armory with a giant film installation and performance-based show focusing on the history of violence in the US. This epic work has been reconfigured into a seven-chapter panoramic film that forms the culmination of Carrie Mae Weems’s new survey at the Barbican in London, her first solo show in a UK institution and the largest presentation of her work in Europe.

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